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Abraham, s._2007_identity, Ethics, And Nonviolence in Postcolonial Theory - A Rahnerian Theological Assessment

Abraham, s._2007_identity, Ethics, And Nonviolence in Postcolonial Theory - A Rahnerian Theological Assessment

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Identity, E thics, and Nonviolence in Postcolonial Theory

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Identity, Ethics, and Nonviolence in Postcolonial Theory
A Rahnerian T heological Assessment Susan Abraham


© Susan Abraham, 2007. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles or reviews. First published in 2007 by PALGRAVE MACMILLAN™ 175 Fifth Avenue, New York, N.Y. 10010 and Houndmills, Basingstoke, Hampshire, England RG21 6XS Companies and representatives throughout the world. PALGRAVE MACMILLAN is the global academic imprint of the Palgrave Macmillan division of St. Martin’s Press, LLC and of Palgrave Macmillan Ltd. Macmillan® is a registered trademark in the United States, United Kingdom and other countries. Palgrave is a registered trademark in the European Union and other countries. ISBN-13: 978–1–4039–7070–1 ISBN-10: 1–4039–7070–X Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Abraham, Susan. Identity, ethics, and nonviolence in postcolonial theory : a Rahnerian theological assessment / Susan Abraham. p. cm. Includes bibliographical references and index. ISBN 1–4039–7070–X (alk. paper) 1. Postcolonialism. 2. Christianity and politics. 3. Rahner, Karl, 1904–1984. I. Title. BR115.P7A247 2007 261.7—dc22 Design by Newgen Imaging Systems (P) Ltd., Chennai, India. First edition: May 2007 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 Printed in the United States of America. 2006051516

A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library.


Preface 1 Doing Theology in the Postcolonial Context: Issues and Problems Why Rahner? Political and Liberation Theologies Postcolonial, Anticolonial, and Decolonizing Theory Disarticulating Theology and Theory: Faith and Power in the Postcolonial Context 2 Negotiating Cultural and Religious Identity in the Postcolony Cultural and Religious Identity at the Boundary The “Supernatural Existential”: Grace as Intrinsic to Religious Identity Porous Cultural Boundaries Porous Religious Boundaries Hybrid Cultural and Theological Strategies: Intercultural and Interreligious Proposals 3 Embodied Ethics in the Postcolony Ethics in the Postcolony Existential Ethics: Rahner’s “Fundamental Option” Embodied Interventions: The Interruptive Caress Incarnating the “Fundamental Option” Love as the Singular Caress of the Gendered Subaltern 4 Spirituality and Nonviolent Polity in the Postcolony Decolonizing the Mind and the Spirit Indiferençia as the “Mysticism of Everyday”


1 10 30 38 45 51 59 70 79 86 93 101 109 120 129 135 141 149 153 164


C o n t e n ts

Embracing Many Worlds: The Practice of Spirituality Practical Mysticism Mysticism of Identity and Mysticism of Love 5 Theology in the Postcolonial Context Notes Bibliography Index

175 184 192 195 207 221 241


Postcolonial theory provides an (im)possible space to imagine theologically. On the one hand, it incisively articulates the effects of a long and continuing history of economic, political, and cultural dominance of the West in many parts of the world and, on the other, it is mired in a Western secularized framework that is unsure how to make political use of theological and religious commitments. Consequently, the central problem of this book is a constructive expansion of the political commitments of postcolonial theorists for Catholic theology and spirituality. Its objective is to engender a postcolonial theological imagination that both challenges postcolonial theory for its lack of religious and theological vision and provides a constructive framework for a mutually enriching dialogue. Postcolonial theology inherently assumes a political context in which questions of cultural identity, racial and gender ethics, and democratic polity frame religious and spiritual commitments. It is therefore an example of intercultural theology. One therefore cannot simply “bring” postcolonial theory to theology or theology to postcolonial theory. Marshalling the one simply to empty the other of insight and validity simply reinforces a reactionary mode of disjunctive thinking. Far more difficult and far more urgently needed is the task of conversation and mutually enriching dialogue between the voices by interpellating (interrupting) the one with the other. Postcolonial academic theory however, presents a unique challenge to theology by highlighting political analyses of the material conditions in which to imagine human activity and hope. Conversely, theology presents a unique challenge to postcolonial theory in its attempts to take religious subjectivity seriously in human history. A transdisciplinary conversation is as vital as it is perilous. Hence the (im)possiblity of the task at hand as asserted previously. As a third-world woman whose access to theological thought was strictly controlled by social, academic, and ecclesiastical policing authorities in India, my arrival at the metropole of academic work in the United States carried with it the promise of the opportunity that



would allow for the space needed to articulate theological convictions that were political. This was not the case. Rather, the project to imagine theology in a political space was impelled by the rueful realization that the metropole was saturated with its own logics of race, class, gender, cultural exclusions, and token inclusions. Addressing the particulars of systemic exclusion and token inclusions ran the risk of continued marginalization since Western academic theology continues to be somewhat tolerant of carefully managed identity politics. The opportunity that presented itself—to engage theology and postcolonial theory in constructive dialogue—required a dangerous interdisciplinary imagination that would challenge and transgress the barriers endorsed by the academy. Consequently, the first stage of the development of this project required breaking through the barrier presented by Western academic theology. Hence the initial conceptualization for the project, presented as a dissertation for Harvard Divinity School took the form of a dialogue between Karl Rahner and three postcolonial theorists: Homi Bhabha, Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, and Ashis Nandy. Rahner certainly presents a challenge in the manner that he constructs his theological position solely in relation to Western philosophy. He needs little introduction in the field of Catholic theology. Contemporary interpreters of Rahner seek to advance his thought beyond its Eurocentric provenance. It can therefore be asserted that Rahner set in place the possibility for these multiple interpretations in his theological scheme. Hence, his theology demonstrates openness also to new and “secular” thought that on first reading seems far removed from his theological concerns. For example, how would his notion of subjectivity that traces its complex lineage from Heidegger, Kant, Scotus, Aquinas, Bonaventure, and Augustine illuminate the antisubjectivist but subjective notion of hybridity advanced by a cultural theorist such as Homi Bhabha? Or how would his notion of the Fundamental Option, which was the basis for the development of liberation theology, engage the feminist ethics of Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak? And finally, how would his notion of Indiferençia and the mystical journey address the concern for the neo-Gandhian mysticism in the engaged politics of Ashis Nandy? What emerged was a dialogue. The dialogical model mandates that claims be weighed in light of counterclaims. What emerged then was not a postcolonial Rahnerian theology or a Rahnerian postcolonial theology. In the course of that dialogue, it became more and more clear to me that the new and exciting field of postcolonial theory that held so much promise for those of us with histories of colonization suffered a



serious institutionalized form of blindness. I began interrogating postcolonial theorists for their complicity in the Western academic framework that brackets religious commitments and discourse as hopelessly provincial, incomprehensible, and inaccessible. A theological imagination in such a context is even more perilous from such a disjunctive perspective since “dialogue” seemed thwarted from the outset. That the dialogue was critical had been impressed upon me in the early years of my theological training at Catholic Theological Union where the need for a practical, faithful, and global theology was always primary. Catholic theology in a manner of speaking is 2,000 years ahead of the “globalization” game. It has much to say to other academic disciplines that are attempting to grapple with the issues raised by the newer forms of economic, political, and cultural globalization. The three theorists presented nuanced and careful analyses of the contemporary forms of globalization. Yet, they and others like them who engaged in political and critical theory seemed to have jettisoned all religious and theological talk from their analyses. Meanwhile, the questions that so seriously impact their work—identity, ethics, and peaceful coexistence—are all negotiated in a religiously saturated framework. Hence, postcolonial theorists run the danger of speaking in a parallel universe when it comes to these global questions. A bridge needs to be built and Rahner’s theological apparatus with its primacy of grace provides the scaffolding. Homi Bhabha currently teaches in the English Department at Harvard University and is an instantly recognizable name in the field of postcolonial theory. Bhabha is committed to theory for its ability to “break the continuity and the consensus of common sense, to break it and break into it” (Olson and Worsham, 1999, 4). Theory helps us grapple with “sententiousness”: as he says, “a sentence can sometimes sentence us” (in Olson and Worsham, 1999, 4). Further, Bhabha is thoroughly committed to thinking about cultural difference. Olson and Worsham explain that cultural difference for Bhabha is a constructed discourse and is often a site of intersecting and sometimes paradoxical and contesting claims. Cultural difference is actively produced in the negotiations between self-identified units of discrete cultures. The presence of cultural difference within the homogenizing logics of globalization, nation, and religion allows for the theorist to intervene with a politics charting and resisting discrimination. Next, Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, who teaches at Columbia University, has been described as the foremost feminist critic in contemporary critical theory even though the opacity of her writing and density of argument prevents easy access to her work. Stephen Morton writes in



introduction that Spivak’s ideas challenge many dominant ideas of our time including the notions that “the western world is more civilized, democratic and more developed than the non-western world or that the present, postcolonial era is more modern and progressive than the earlier historical period of European colonialism in the nineteenth century” (Morton, 2003, 1). Spivak’s method of deconstruction draws from Jacques Derrida as well as Paul de Man. Her use of the method of deconstruction highlights the political and economic interests that fuel the current form of economic and cultural globalization and deeply challenges the truth claims of Western democracy. Her opaque and dense style is attributed to her critical reading and writing practice, which brings her to the realization that “plain prose cheats” (Quoted in Morton, 2003, 6). This position therefore is similar to Bhabha’s insistence on being critical of sententiousness and his warning that “the sentence” can lead us to be sentenced. Spivak has also been at the forefront of critical studies of Western theoretical models used by the Subaltern Studies group, for example. She deems Western critical theory to be hopelessly inadequate to address the complex, multiply disenfranchised, and unsystematic lives of women in India and interrogates the manner in which Western privileged intellectuals theorize the lives of such women. Consequently, Spivak also engages in a criticism of Western feminism and exposes its alliance with Western imperialism. Spivak’s critical stance is meant to counter the effects of imperialist thinking, which notes the presence of the thirdworld intellectual in the academy only as a “native informant.” Finally, the third theorist I investigate in this book, Ashis Nandy, currently resides in India and is the Senior Fellow at the Center for the Study of Developing Societies in New Delhi. Nandy’s commitment to democracy and a postsecular politics, makes some room for the transcendent and the sacred, and argues for a nonhierarchical and antitechnocratic basis for human knowledge. Robert J.C. Young elaborates that Nandy’s highly influential book The Intimate Enemy established four of the major issues that has become central to the field of (Indian) postcolonial theory: the psychology of resistance, the strategies of resistance that are grounded in negotiations with the culture that is being resisted, the gendered face of imperialism, and the hybrid responses that enable the political strategies to counter colonial violence (Young, 2001, 341). As such therefore, we can note the lines of continuity that can be drawn between Bhabha, Spivak, and Nandy. Both the theory of Hybridity of Identity that Bhabha presents as well as the gendered stance of essential agency that Spivak insists upon can be traced back to Nandy’s original presentation of those ideas. Nandy, argues Young,



also presents these topics through a secular and psychoanalytic reading of Gandhi, which reinterprets Gandhi’s emphasis on spirituality. Young’s evaluation of Nandy captures the heart of this book’s thesis as a whole, for it is Nandy’s vision that infuses the attempt to make boundaries porous:
For Nandy too, the answer lies in a dialectical view of modernity, in the creation of a counter-modernity through the transformative potential of the transculturations of gender and hybridity, creating new traditions that will not be a return to an imaginary, pure, indigenous knowledge, but a repertoire drawn from a dialectical mixture of classical and folk knowledges, the pure and the mixed, the high and the low, the masculine and the feminine: modernity hybridized. —Young, 2001, 345

Cultural studies advanced by theorists such as Bhabha, Spivak, and Nandy have also given new momentum to contemporary and constructive theology. Robert Schreiter, for example, has been at the forefront of imagining such a conversation between Catholic theology and the forces of the new globalization. Professor Schreiter’s original contribution to this nexus of ideas in his work makes significant contribution to theology in the context of globalization. On a personal note, his continuing friendship and mentoring which includes his generous sharing of ideas and essays have sharpened and honed this book’s argument. In an unpublished series of lectures delivered to the Newman Theological College in Edmonton, Alberta (March 18–19, 2005), he argues that doing theology in the context of globalization is to do theology in a rather unstable world. Attempts to think theologically using the paradigms provided by “postmodernity” and “multiculturalism” have resulted in the five phenomena that exhibit significant “neuralgic” stress points for theology. They are globalization, increased migration, resurgence of religion [or, I would argue, resurgence of (violent) identity claims based on religious identity], global terrorism, and massive ecological disaster. These stress points vitiate the claims of any theological undertaking that fail to take them into account. Thus Catholicism’s global identity, expressed in its “catholicity” now must address the four stress points constructively. False universalism or totalitarian reactions will hardly help in the face of such instability. How do we do theology in such a world defined by global stressors of the kind Schreiter identifies? Further, how do communities of belief



work toward humanizing institutions, communities, and neighborhoods for a more peaceable future given that our unstable present is riven with continual violence? These questions require both a constructive emphasis that is willing to negotiate the boundaries of the Church and the academy while also pointing to the direction in which theology in the twenty-first century must progress. In Schreiter’s opinion, our fractured, unstable, and agonistic present requires a “cosmopolitan” way of imagining the whole: that is, in the manner that we make meaning and utilize particular truth claims to create identity, root ethics, and coinhabit a world of human beings, living creatures, and ecosystems. Consequently, I argue in the book that reading the “signs of the times” remains a central task of the Christian theological imagination that navigates between the failed discourses of multiculturalism and postmodernism and the attempts to secure absolute control by centralized political, academic, or ecclesiastical authority. Hence, the first chapter presents the interdisciplinary task of engaging postcolonial theory and Karl Rahner’s theology of freedom in the context of the concerns of cultural identity, racial and gendered ethics, and peaceable coexistence. Each discipline by itself fails to comprehensively assess the gravity of the situation in the postcolonial context. This chapter therefore, identifies the limits of strictly “secular” theory and strictly theological thought, and advances the method whereby an interaction between the two disciplines can be made clearer. The next three chapters, consequently, investigate each of these complexes to find that the mutual elisions of theology and theory do not allow for a simple methodology of add and stir. Instead, an interwoven text-ile conversation, interpellating and disrupting both Rahner and postcolonial theorists, allows for a glimpse into the kind of constructive theological work that ought to be done in the era of colonial, postcolonial, and neocolonial relations. Theological anthropology in other words shifts from the question of “what it is to be human” to “What does it mean for humans to be in relationship to the self, others, the world, and with God?” The original dissertation and now the book owe a great debt to a number of people who supported and challenged the ideas herein. Each will recognize their indelible stamp in the various influences that have led me here. I am greatly indebted to Francis Schüssler Fiorenza who has provided me with ample encouragement and trust in my theological voice. His mentoring of this theological voice continues to exemplify what “Love” ought to mean and do in the postcolonial context. Francis constantly asked me to return to my original commitments and challenged me to explain postcolonial theory lucidly.



He gave strength to my political commitments and steadfastly tolerated my many initial bumbling moments of articulation. The dissertation (and the book consequently) arose out of a single challenge that Francis presented me with: what would Rahner say if you explained postcolonial theory to him? That question remains the richest vein in my intellectual formation. Roger Haight has been a theological, spiritual, and personal mentor in embodying a truly catholic theology that mirrors Karl Rahner’s commitment to “finding God in all things.” The “mysticism of the everyday,” grounded in the fertile soil of Ignatian Spirituality is Roger’s Rahnerian gift to his students and friends. It has empowered me with its deep courage, wisdom, and strength. Roger once told me that his work was his prayer. That unity of heart and mind is something I aspire to constantly. Robert Schreiter of Catholic Theological Union was the first mentor whose unstinting commitment to intercultural communication allowed me to explore the plurality of identities that slowly showed up in my intellectual journey with him. The basic framework of developing an intercultural theology was cultivated under his direction. This book owes much to his daring vision for theology in the twenty-first century. The book is an example of the kind of intercultural and global theology that he has presented the blueprint for. I have also been tremendously supported in every way at Harvard Divinity School and various colloquia there. Primary among these was the religion, gender, and society colloquium directed by Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza and her generous commitment to create spaces for all gendered subalterns. Members of those colloquia and the deep friendship we continue to cherish add wings to this endeavor of postcolonial theological thinking. Similarly, the theology department and in particular the friendship and mentoring of Sarah Coakley and Ron Thiemann provided for challenging and insightful support. Deep gratitude and thanks are also extended to colleagues, faculty, and students at St. Bonaventure University, especially Jim Fodor who managed to read the manuscript in the middle of his multifarious responsibilities and made suggestions that clarified the text considerably. Margaret Guider of Weston Jesuit School of Theology has been a friend and wise guide for many years now and this manuscript owes much to her insights and timely advice. I must also note that my presence in the Western academy would have been an impossibility if it had not been for the fortuitous planning of good people such as Meg and others who had initiated a scholarship for women from the third world at Catholic Theological Union in Chicago. Without that help



this project would never have seen the light of day. The staff, faculty and colleagues at CTU, in particular Herbert Anderson, Stephen Bevans, Edward Foley, and Harrietta Holloway were inspirational and far seeing in their commitment to the theological enterprise from every corner of the globe. The folks at Palgrave Macmillan, in particular Amanda Johnson, Emily Liethauser, Kristy Lilas, and Newgen Publishing and Data Services were supportive, kind, patient, and a delight to work with. I have deep gratitude for the professionalism and understanding with which our association has proceeded thus far. Finally, one is forever indebted to the ones who are near and dear and who are committed to wait. My family in India and in Chicago, especially Gracy Jacob, always has been there for me. Most especially my mother, who arrived as the final pages of this book were being written, deserves a world of gratitude. My deepest thanks go to Elizabeth Ludvik whose infectious optimism and cheer infuses every page of the book’s intercultural and postcolonial theology.

Chapter 1

Doing Theology in the P ostcolonial C ontext: Issues and Problems

It is better to keep working away at the (im)possible, than to make things seem possible by way of polarizations. —Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak (1993, 215–216).

In much contemporary postcolonial theory, “religion” is considered
to be a separate matter from political theory. The issues of most concern to postcolonial theorists—identity, ethics, and peaceable coexistence or nonviolence—however, are questions that have deeply religious and theological dimensions. The three postcolonial theorists that we will examine in this study: Homi Bhabha, Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, and Ashis Nandy treat religion in the predictable manner of their post-Enlightenment heritage. Of the three, Ashis Nandy is far more acknowledging of the intertwining of religion and politics but avoids articulating any committed theology to accompany his quasispiritual retrieval of nonviolence. The issues of identity, ethics, and peaceable coexistence are particularly important questions for the twenty-first century: who we are and how we live with each other encapsulate the intertwined nature of the problem. I believe that postcolonial theorists in addressing these questions fail to look at the whole picture since the questions have religious and theological overtones. Both Bhabha and Spivak write from within the enclave of the North American academy even as they retrieve and aim to speak to a


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history of Euro-American colonization and neocolonization in India. The geopolitical contexts called India and the United States are contexts in which the mutual imbrication of religion and politics is amply evident, but ignored or dismissed by Bhabha and Spivak. Nandy is cut from a slightly different cloth as we shall see, but the charge that he too avoids speaking of particular and specific religious and theological commitments will also stick. It would seem that the three thinkers are committed to the “secularization” thesis, which asserts that religion and theology are “other-worldly,” while politics and political theory in particular are “this-worldly.” Scott Appleby provides a historical view of the “secularization thesis,” which is understood as the separation of the religious and political into two separate spaces of activity in the West (Appleby, 2000, 1–21). Here, a specific interpretation of the notion of secular, made popular in the West gains ascendancy in the wake of the establishment of forms of democratic governments that separated Church from State. This notion of secular went on to be imposed on the rest of the world by the influential economic and political mechanisms of the West and continues to be perpetuated in academic thought. Instead, suggests Appleby, the original meaning of the word “secular” may herald new articulations for religious and political movements. In pointing out that the division between the notions of religious and secular has a Christian provenance (311), he makes clear that the terms “secular,” “secularized,” and “secularization” derive from the Latin word saeculum or world. For Roman Catholic canon law, when a person left the cloister, s/he returned to the “world” and became “secular.” A priest therefore could be both religious and secular at one and the same time. As he emphasizes, “religious” therefore does not mean “other-worldly.” It means rather, “a mode of being in the world.” According to this view, being religious means to act from commitments that are theological and spiritual in the world, in contrast to the assumptions of academic theorists who imagine that a reliance on the religious immediately means a reliance on indefensible otherworldly systems. The particularly Western notion of the separation of religion and politics is also interpreted in a slightly different manner in India. “Secular” in the constitution of the political entity called the Indian nation-state never meant a public sphere that was devoid of religion or religious commitments. It meant instead, that no primacy was given to any one religion or religious identity. The democratic framework however is meant to be inclusive of all religious claims. Hence, the secular/religious division does not relate to the Indian context either.

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The deep division between the public and the political is perhaps clearest in some European cultures and very clear in the North American academic culture. Bhabha and Spivak, working primarily within the North American academic context, therefore separate religion from political and public commitments in contradiction to the presence of religion in the political climate of neoconservative U.S. and Indian politics. Nandy, in contrast, votes for the inclusion of some religion, but does not demonstrate how the commitment to a concrete religious practice can enhance the commitment to nonviolence. Bhabha, Spivak, and Nandy have a right to be leery of religion in the climate of resurgent religious nationalism. The identity politics of this brand of exclusivist national identity creation buttressed by a narrow interpretation of religious and theological principles depends on the marginalization of any religious identity other than the majority in service of the nation-state. In India for example, neoconservative “Hinduism” is now cast as the “national religion” by far-right politicians attempting to gain votes through populist measures. What comes to be is a kind of “Hindu secularization” in nationalist politics where accommodation of other religious identities is carried out on Hindu nationalistic terms. Much the same sort of claim can be made of the politics in the United States. While I will be arguing for the inclusion of religious and theological commitments in theory and political action, I am certainly not arguing for the yoking of religious identity to nationalist rhetoric. I join the theorists here in the deep suspicion of a theocratic nation-state, an idea that postcolonial theorists are extremely critical of. However, I also believe that the theorists do not take into account or are unaware of the manner in which logics of inclusion, democratization, tolerance, and empathy are created in public discourse through religious, theological, and spiritual commitments. Liberal political theorists such as Bhabha, Spivak, and Nandy also fall prey to the ubiquitous thesis that religion has an “essence” that can be separated from politics. Here Talal Asad’s magnificent presentation of the genealogy of the category of religion in the West is extremely instructive and useful (Asad, 1993, 27–54). Asad asserts that the distinction between religion and politics serves both secular liberal political thinkers as well as liberal Christians. On the one hand, the distinction allows for religion to be confined in the realm of politics by the former and the distinction serves as a defense for the latter. Asad identifies the distinction as a modern Western norm that is applied to the West. When it comes to the depiction of Islam in the


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West however, politics and religion are fatefully coupled. Religion, or more precisely “religion” in Islam, is understood as a function of the bid for political power. Such a negative “a priori” stance toward Islam is fostered by the inability to comprehend how power constructs “religion.” The problem with these moves, asserts Asad, is that an anthropological and consequently universalizing definition of religion obscures the particular and contextual historical processes that give rise to religious systems. “Essence of religion” notions on which anthropological definitions of religion are surmised do not investigate the conditions under which symbol systems are constructed. Religious power has the power to create religious truth says Asad (1993, 33) pointing out that no less a luminary than Augustine realized the role of coercion as a condition for realizing truth. Power thus creates “truth.” Historically, Asad situates this move as belonging to Christianity’s ecclesial function of relating creative institutional power to authorized practice. Moreover, the idea that “belief ” is the lynchpin for religious practice is another modern move (Asad traces the idea of “natural religion” to the seventeenth century, in particular, to Edward Herbert’s De Veritate, 1633) that was a move away from the earlier emphasis on scripture. Natural religion therefore was a correlate of natural science and emphasized belief, experience, and practice as opposed to the more traditional mode of concrete practical rules that were negotiated in a specific relation to power and knowledge. This Christian history of the abstract notion of religion is ignored by many who study religion and is exacerbated by the fact that the discourse of theology is fully invested in keeping “obscure” the “authorizing processes” by which theological truth is produced and safeguarded. Power creates religion and theological certitude, asserts Asad (1993, 45), and the move to locate the core of religion and theology in belief or assent ignores the fact that religious symbols do not have meaning outside of those social disciplines that secure the “correct” meaning of these symbols. Since the authoritative status of religious meanings cannot be divorced from the “distinctive disciplines and forces” that confer meaning and seek assent for these authoritative readings, two implications obtain. On the one hand, there is no possibility of an “anthropological study” of religion, and on the other, there is no possibility of the bracketing of religion from anthropological study of culture or politics. Asad’s intricate argument is relevant to this book’s thesis, which argues that theories of culture that bracket religion or theology fail to see how their field of study owes its existence to a particular history that is both Western and Christian.

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The three themes of Identity, Ethics and Nonviolence provide an entry point for the analyses of power in the lives of people under colonial and neocolonial social, political, economic, and cultural conditions. My book therefore deals with the manner in which cultural identity influences the construction of religious identity, ethics and spirituality. Such cultural analyses have recently been foregrounded in the larger theological enterprise (Hopkins and Davaney, 1996; Schreiter, 1997; Kowk, 2005). For such theologians, critical cultural and social theories become the conversation partners in the theological enterprise in contrast to the more traditional mode of conversation that utilized philosophy and biblical studies (Davaney, 1995, 40, 255). Here the category of “culture” requires scrutiny just as the category of “religion” does. In clarifying the arena of culture, Davaney states that “culture” is not merely the domain of elite or high culture. Instead, it is broadly construed to encompass both the “ideational and material” (255) dimensions of human existence. It is a “holistic” idea of culture that is utilized for the new agenda in theology, with a focus on the “everyday,” the popular, and the ordinary. This particular focus on culture will have to pay attention to the distribution of political and economic resources and the organization of bodies (racialized, gendered, and sexualized), buildings, and geography as it relates to religious thinking and practice. Seen in this mode, cultural studies are ideal conversation partners for theology because a certain constructive and syncretic mode of cultural relations is quite evident there. She writes:
Cultures are creatively syncretistic in part because they are composed of various elements that interact in dynamic, changing and not totally predictable ways. Thus, internally they are varied and pluralistic, both reproducing earlier forms of meaning, practice and organization and construction of new forms that cannot be anticipated. Moreover, cultures are permeable, interacting with other cultural contexts and formations, continually reacting to and bringing together identities, institutions, roles and symbolic universes utilizing varied, divergent and even seemingly incommensurate resources. (256)

It would seem therefore, that there are serious attempts afoot, by committed religious and theological thinkers, to take the category of culture as a key factor in developing constructive and practical positions in religion and theology. Or, take Kathryn Tanner’s incisive account of culture and its anthropological dimensions in her book Theories of Culture: A New Agenda for Theology (1997). First of all, she points out, the modern


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anthropological understanding of culture has been thoroughly criticized (40–56). Modern anthropological accounts of culture, for example, presented culture in a de-historicized manner as something already formed and finished. However, if culture is human activity, then the historical context in which such activity occurs and the agency of human actors involved in the process cannot be ignored. Another charge is the mistake of modern anthropological studies that persisted in seeing cultures as internally consistent wholes (42). Tanner forcefully argues that the perception of culture as an internally consistent whole is related to the colonial enterprise as well as to the residual biological determinism of evolutionism that characterized colonial European thought regarding races. Biological analogies were smuggled in to be reflected in the explanations for cultural differences so that the judgment of an internally consistent whole reflects the disciplining requirement of modern anthropological thought. Another obsession with the modern anthropological constructions of culture is the requirement for consensus. Such a requirement “hypostatizes” identity (45) and insists on “referential” (46) meanings of culture. Instead, argues Tanner, we need to take a cue from poststructuralism and its understanding of meaning as “plural, shifting, always different and deferred, in keeping with the ever-changing, multivalent circumstances of its historical production.” A third notion that needs to be challenged in the modern anthropological notion of culture is culture as a principle of social order. “Social order,” which Tanner describes as a holdover from the culture/anarchy problematic articulated by Mathew Arnold, is often deployed in arguments by the elite classes as justification of their continued dominance, and is also often misinterpreted by the anthropologist who in noting the surface social order assumes consensus. In so doing this method ignores the possibility of practices of surveillance, the use of coercion, seductions and distractions provided by consumerism and materialism, or the simple willed ignorance of a populace unwilling and unable to figure out what is going on. Culture may or may not provide social order and the anthropologist needs to be extremely sensitive and aware of the social contexts in which social norms function. Consequently, primacy is given to cultural change rather than stability, as modern anthropological accounts would have it. Here, the anthropologist would have to be aware of historical processes that bring with them the constant possibility of change. Finally, culture cannot be seen as being sharply bounded and comprised of divided units (53) because change, conflict, and contradiction are now admitted within the culture. Cultures are not “pure” and

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need to be seen with reference to a global history. Tanner therefore argues that we need to use the anthropological account of culture carefully, keeping the above complexities of “culture” in mind. There is much more attention being paid to the historical processes within which cultural interactions take place. Cultures can be considered as wholes, for example, but as “internally fissured and contradictory wholes” (57). Cultures are opportunities for engagement as opposed to consensus or agreement. Differences between cultures do not mark the edges of separate and self-contained units: instead, the boundaries provide opportunities for border crossings and transgressions. Cultural identity in every case therefore is a relational affair. In sum, the category of “culture” is equally problematic as the category of “religion.” Neither can be apprehended apart from the other and the dialectical tension between the two terms provides the analytical framework for my argument. Thus, the three themes of identity, ethics, and nonviolence as articulated in their religious, political, and cultural contexts by postcolonial theorists are juxtaposed with theological categories for purposes of dialogue and interrogation: religious identity and conversion in the postcolonial context (and its relation to identity), theological ethics as love in postcolonial feminist ethics (and its relation to postcolonial feminist ethics), and mysticism for political action in situations of violent conflict (and its relation to nonviolence in the political arena). The constructive and critical mode interrogates and advances both perspectives—that of cultural postcolonial theory as well as that of contemporary Roman Catholic theology—by presenting a mode of theological engagement that does not present a positivist account of a certain kind of theology. Since issues of cultural importance are foregrounded, it would be correct to say that the theological task is undertaken with an awareness of cultural claims. Robert Schreiter would call this intercultural theology (Schreiter, 1997, 28–61). Specifically, intercultural theology is theology done across cultural boundaries. In articulating what “culture” might mean, Schreiter distinguishes between integrated and globalized concepts of culture. Each emphasizes particular capabilities of culture to mobilize theological articulation. He points out that the first generation of contextual theologies utilized integrated concepts of culture to help assert local identities. Today, the awareness that the context itself needs sophisticated theorizing has led to the realization that intercultural theology emphasizes culture as performance and culture as material, in addition to culture as ideational (29). The performance and material analyses lead to specific epistemological issues for intercultural theology. In other words, intercultural theology is


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not cut out of the same cloth as the older contextual theologies that worked with the integrated meanings of culture. “Culture” here is not being deployed as a unified unit that has coherent meaning. That is how the contextual theologies of yesterday deployed the meaning of “culture.” Since the performative and material bases of cultural claims do differ, epistemological modifications are necessary for theology. Hence first, I provide a sketch of the complex of issues and questions facing theology in the postcolonial context. It proceeds in three moves before I present the methodological terrain that will best suit the three issues of concern to our representative postcolonial theorists. First, I establish that the constructive position for postcolonial theology must begin in the mode of critical dialogue between postcolonial theory and contemporary Catholic theology. Since it is impossible to roam the landscape of all of Roman Catholic theology in a single book, I chose one representative thinker within Roman Catholicism to perform the critical dialogue with postcolonial theory. Karl Rahner needs no introduction to Vatican II Roman Catholics in the West since his towering achievement in the last century includes his continuing relevance for the theological imagination at the socalled periphery. In particular, his theology of freedom elucidated with the awareness of historical context presents the issues of religious identity, ethical action, and mystical practice in the world in such a manner as to be useful (to an extent) for postcolonial theology. Second, I anticipate the question generated at the center of the academic theological enterprise interrogating the use of Rahner for intercultural theology. In the second section, therefore, I present the argument that postcolonial theology, while being aligned with both political and liberation theologies, nonetheless offers a different set of concerns and these concerns consequently define a different moment and methodology. Third, the argument turns to delineating the difference between anticolonial, postcolonial, and decolonizing arguments that indicate that the word “postcolonial” in postcolonial theology signifies an attribute of mind being applied to the doing of theology. The concluding part presents the constructive proposal for the critical dialogue being set up in the following chapters between Rahner and each of the postcolonial theorists. Asad had warned that the vague and amorphous notion of “religion” as employed by twentieth-century anthropologists was not a viable one for the purpose of critical inquiry. The attempt to study religion separately from the study of the historical and cultural processes that gave rise to its unique formulation in modernity, in the

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ideological framework of the West and in Western academy ignores the manner in which the very category is constructed with specific consequences for particular religions such as Islam. As Schreiter, Davaney, and Tanner argue, we also cannot ignore how culture impinges on the study of religion and theology in particular. In fact, in my view, the issues of identity, ethics, and peaceable coexistence cannot but be a study of the interconnection of culture and theology. The opportunity generated by a theological imagination reading postcolonial theory against the grain yields a “disarticulation” (Spivak, 1997, 483) of coherent perspectives in postcolonial theory. The attempt to disavow coherence in theoretical practice takes aim at one of the methods of creating meaning in modernity—through consistent and univocal use of concepts and method. Such a requirement of “coherence” sacrifices the heterogeneous contexts from which multiple truths are produced. The method of disarticulation therefore goes against the absolutist mode of discerning truth and meaning. When the method of disarticulation is employed by a theological imagination, the notion of truth similarly resists the absolutist standards preferred by governing authorities. What goes by the name of “postcolonial theology” is therefore explicitly not one that is comparative, yielding a perfectly unified “postcolonial theology.” Just as postcolonial theory produced multiple sites of interrogation and multiple strands of investigation, postcolonial theology will take on multiple forms of imaginative engagement with the deepest questions facing its context. Disarticulating theology requires strategies for reading such as those suggested by R.S. Sugirtharajah (2003, 16). “Reading contrapuntally,” where texts from metropolitan centers and peripheries are studied simultaneously, informs the concrete methodological strategy of disarticulation. In fact, a contrapuntal reading rather than a comparativist one (which always reads the “other” in relation to itself ) yields the heterogeneous insights of postcolonial theology. Reading contrapuntally in order to disarticulate theology in India is a daunting task. It is difficult to perform the contrapuntal reading strategy advocated by Sugirtharajah for theology in India where Christianity has been a minority religion and theological production has been limited to an elite corps. Hence, the contrapuntal reading engaged in has to be with texts that have canonical status in other loci (in our case, the Western academy). Later, Sugirtharajah also points to a tactic that is employed by those attempting to utilize texts such as the Bible for liberation. Poaching, as a reading strategy allows for an unsystematic and uncontrollable tactic in the context of unequal power. Both these strategies will disarticulate theology.


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Disarticulation in theology will not be a welcome move in an era of increasing centralized control. In my view, there are two issues here worth examining. One clearly presented analysis of theological production in the era of globalization is articulated by Robert Schreiter (1997, 1–21). He argues that the deep ambiguities of the complex globalized present have garnered reactions in the form of antiglobalizing strategies by hierarchical, authoritarian and neoconservative religious and political groups: fundamentalism and revanchism (Schreiter, 1997, 21).1 Richard McBrien (1994, 94) explains forms of “Catholic” fundamentalism for us. Catholic fundamentalism demonstrates some of the same features of other forms of fundamentalism to be found in Protestantism or religions other than Christian. Fundamentalism seeks to preserve a particular identity that is felt as coming under attack by modernity by highlighting particular aspects of the group’s identity. In the case of Catholics it is demonstrated in two forms— biblical and doctrinal fundamentalism—where meaning of sacred texts or official teaching is taken literally as the most significant requirement for cohesive group identity. Biblical and doctrinal fundamentalism are fostered by a revanchist hierarchy that seeks to regain control over matters that had been yielded to modernity. In its Roman Catholic form, it provides a response to globalization and its attendant ambiguities by reasserting centralized control over global movements that are reframing identity, ethics, and spirituality today (Schreiter, 1997, 21–23). Revanchist Roman Catholic theology therefore is another point of conversation for postcolonial theology; though in this book it only hovers in the background. In face of the requirement for certitude, consistence, and coherence purveyed by modern and revanchist theology, the postcolonial theological imagination will have to retain its comfort with ambiguity, emphasize the provisionality of its perspective, and present a “disarticulation” of both secular theory and absolutist theological pronouncements.

Why Rahner?
The theological anthropology in which Rahner grounds his theology of freedom, for example, indirectly deals with questions of identity, ethics, and nonviolence. In fact, Rahner proves to be a very interesting interlocutor with postcolonial theory for two reasons. On the one hand, his anthropocentric theological starting point before Vatican II self-consciously moves to a concern with theological anthropology. Anne Carr maintains that a clear distinction can be seen in Rahner’s

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early and later works—the earlier works sought to elucidate what he called an analogical receptivity between transcendental philosophy and Thomistic theology, and the later works, written after the Council, focuson “the historical context of the knowing subject, or human experience in a new and pluralistic cultural setting” (Carr, 1977, 56). Hence, the anthropological essentialism of the early Rahner gives way to the theological anthropology of the later Rahner. The later theological anthropology takes into account notions of history, culture, and even power. Hence, Rahner emphasizes the dialogical model between philosophy and theology. Nevertheless, he remains very abstract in the manner that he develops these linkages. Consequently, in engaging with Rahner, we need to disrupt his theological solutions with the insights of cultural theory that can point the way forward to make the linkages between history, culture, power, and theology even more concrete. Further, Rahner is necessary for the process of interpellating postcolonial theory since the postcolonial theorists being investigated here present moments of excess, the beyond, ineffability, and mystery that they hesitate to theorize or reflect upon. These moments can only be adequately theorized by a theological imagination such as Rahner’s. His theological anthropology, consequently, provides the impetus for a hope-filled corrective for the “anthropological poverty” (Schreiter, 1997, 117) faced by colonized cultures, if the workings of grace can be shown as related to concerns of identity, ethics, and nonviolence. If we are to be able to say that religious and spiritual commitments matter in political agency and that theological insight is able to provide for capacious imaginations for inclusivity and love, then a Rahnerian theological program is eminently suitable for postcolonial theological thinking. On the other hand, in terms of a critical engagement Rahner proves Asad’s point that theological thinking often obscures the power operating behind “truths” affirmed by the system. Even as Rahner engages perfunctorily with “culture” and with “power,” his model alone does not provide for the kind of constructive theological proposal that can only come from an interdisciplinary one. Accordingly, I begin this chapter with a close look at the salient aspects of Rahner’s theology of freedom. As I sketch the parameters of his theology of freedom, I will also point to the reasons why Rahner’s relatively apolitical view of freedom is no longer wholly translatable within a context that raises issues of identity, ethics, and nonviolence in the presence of unequal power. He can however, serve as a useful starting point to raise questions in a mutually critical framework with regard to secular postcolonial theory. Moreover, there is in Rahner’s


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theology an inner openness (or, as David Tracy calls it, an analogical imagination) to dialogue with contemporary questions that is extremely hopeful to historically oriented theology such as political theology or liberation theology. Could J.B. Metz’s critique of Rahner’s theology of freedom (in particular) serve as a better conversation partner for postcolonial theological thought? Yes, if the need for postcolonial theology is to present a unified “theology of freedom in a postcolonial context.” No, he is not a better conversation partner if the function of postcolonial theology is to be critical and perform the “disarticulation” of theology in order to identify how faith functions in the context of power. What I mean here is that the development of political theology in Metz at least was an attempt to present a coherent theology that was a critique of the preceding transcendental theologies such as Rahner’s. Postcolonial theological thinking is going to retain its flavor as a disarticulating and contrapuntal reading against the grain. It is going to retain the critical element of constantly evaluating how power flows in the construction of theological thinking. In passing, I would like to note that if Metz’s theology was indeed applicable in contexts where the experience of domination and suffering are to the fore, theologies of liberation in Latin America for example, might not have developed. Logically, Metz sets the tone for the political development of Rahner’s theology of freedom, but, practically, he falls short of the requirements of a postcolonial (and liberation) agenda. Postcolonial theology rather, has heretofore been concerned with three main issues (R.S. Sugirtharajah, 2003, 4). First, it critically analyzes the social, political, and economic conditions of the present world order and the positioning of various identity markers and the ambivalence it generates in colonial and neocolonial conditions. Next, as a critical discursive practice, it engages in oppositional reading of important texts that hold sway in knowledge production of and by colonized cultures. Third, it presents an antiglobalization stance in interpreting these texts. In light of these critical requirements, formulating a theology that deals with freedom necessitates reflection on categories that are not of significant concern to Eurocentric theologies. Postcolonial thought, therefore, deals with the current economic and political world order, the deep inequalities engendered in the continued neocolonizing moves of Western empire, the ambiguities thrown up in societies that are attempting to decolonize and the anticolonial and antiglobalization practices of the formerly colonized. Cultures that deal with these complexes are called cultures of survival.

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Hence, freedom in the postcolonial context is based in the negotiations between identity, ethics, and violence that arise in cultures of survival. Survival strategies in violent contexts stem from negotiations in history, contrary to the presumption in Rahner that a unified and clear “subjectivity” can provide for the messy, dynamic, plural, incremental, porous, and thoroughly concrete strategies employed by people in cultures of survival. It must be stated at the outset that the focus of the present investigation of the relationship between freedom and subjectivity in Rahner is specifically not the analysis of the philosophical basis of Rahner’s theology2 of freedom. Rather, what I attempt here is the assessment of the historical commitment of Rahner’s theology of freedom and subjectivity. I argue that even as Rahner provides for a more historical and categorical reading of subjectivity through a historical metaphysics in his theology of freedom, his solutions are rather outmoded. Specifically, even as Rahner provides for an ethics that is inclusive of the “Other,” it is not an ethics of alterity in the manner upon which postcolonial theorists insist. Hence, even though he is a significant partner for conversation in the postcolonial context, he is not uncritically retrieved for the postcolonial context. At the heart of Rahner’s theology is the experience of the Spirit in everyday life or the encounter with the divine in the everyday. Human beings are “spirits in the world” and human freedom is linked to themes such as love of neighbor, mysticism, and grace. Consequently, the theology of freedom in Rahner has three components, which are enumerated as follows: the transcendental-metaphysical basis, the existential-ethical basis, and the mystical-spiritual basis. Of these, the first category seems to be at complete odds with postcolonial theory (but as we shall see, offers a significant challenge to postcolonial presumptions of subjectivity). The second seems to be most abstract in contrast with postcolonial feminist ethics (and as we shall see, is thoroughly oppositional to it), and finally, the mystical-spiritual basis is contrasted with the mystical-spiritual function within politics (and thus is deepened and intensified in its conversation with postcolonial theory). Given the three emphases—transcendental subjectivity, existential ethics, and mystical practice—in Rahner, what is required in the postcolonial context is a deepening of the social and political dimension of each, if the goal were a Rahnerian theology of freedom. Thus, transcendental subjectivity requires amplification with regard to cultural identity, existential ethics must be embodied and historically rooted in ethical action, and mystical practice judged by its effect on political


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involvement. This amplification of Rahner’s ideas anticipates the manner in which this book as a whole utilizes insights from Rahner and postcolonial theory to present freedom as related to culture, society, and politics. Consequently, in this chapter, intensifying the social and political dimension in Rahner presents an initial exploration of disarticulation. A thoroughgoing exegetical account of the roots of the idea of “transcendental” in Rahner is not attempted here, as extensive literature on the subject already exists.3 Rather, what will be drawn out is the historical and theological emphasis in the development of “transcendental” freedom in Rahner. It is a mistake to understand “transcendental” to be ahistorical. It is of course also a mistake to take it to be historical in the manner that cultural studies understand history in the contingent present since Rahner takes pains to establish a metaphysical framework in the use of the idea. In Rahner’s theological account of human freedom, freedom is determinate, open, and dependent on the “other” (the other being God and neighbor). “Human nature” in this system depends first on a conceptualization of the self as “transcendental” and “self-reflexive.” Thus, an important element in the idea of the “transcendental” is consciousness of self. Without such a consciousness, no knowledge is possible. Consciousness and knowledge rely on the idea of “openness” to being. It is transcendental because while being is not available for concrete apprehension, it is nonetheless the condition of the possibility of knowing. Therefore, all human knowledge is grounded in a pre-apprehension of being which Rahner calls the Vorgriff. Vorgriff is absolute being and its pre-apprehension, in the manner that he tries to describe it, affirms the very presence of that being. Thus, a metaphysical starting point is established for the question of God and for the question of human. However, Rahner is careful to show that both the transcendental as well as theological starting points are not special or esoteric moments in ordinary human life, but are an integrated and intrinsic part of it. In a move to historicize freedom, Rahner argues that human beings are oriented to God in their created reality. In other words, the issue for Rahner here is to show that human beings possess an essential openness to the divine other within a historical matrix. Since we possess such openness in our very nature, it also indicates to us our “undeniable duties” to establish our spiritual existence on historical events (Rahner, 1994, 8–9). Further, because the human person is spirit, human receptivity in knowledge must be understood as the ability to grasp the “more.” Human beings have

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the capacity “to go beyond.” It is a dynamic movement of the spirit— a metaphysical a priori in which the “readiness to affirm being serves as a kind of precondition for the knowledge of anything at all” (Di Noia, 1997, 118–134). Only through the Vorgriff can human beings continually transcend everything toward pure being. Because of the Vorgriff, there is no domain that lies absolutely outside of the horizon in which human beings know objects and it is because of this knowledge, asserts Rahner, that human beings “are self-subsistent and capable of freely acting and deciding our destiny” (Rahner, 1994, 53). This is affirmed in every act of knowledge and freedom and confirms the basic makeup of the human person as spiritual nature. This transcendental method additionally is indebted to Rahner’s retrieval of Heidegger’s existential philosophy. In an essay elucidating his understanding of Heidegger’s idea of the “existential philosophy,” Rahner indicates the moves he makes to conceptualize human knowing, being and doing using the transcendental method. He interprets Dasein in Heidegger to mean:
. . . the human being themselves, each one of us, characterized by this that essentially they ask the question about being, that theirs is the connatural transcendence which orients them toward all being; whence also the power of comprehending themselves in a determined way, of disposing of themselves, of taking such and such a stance with regard to themselves. And reciprocally, the human being, insofar as they are in some way the object of this free self-disposition, attribute of Dasein, is called by Heidegger existence (Existenz). (Rahner, 1969, 126–137, original emphasis)

The existential constituent is the “properly human” mode of being, which is transcendence or openness to being in general. Two steps are required, in order to analyze Dasein or the human being. First of all, we must develop a phenomenological description of Dasein and then we need to bring this description and understanding into relation with its ultimate meaning. Unfortunately, Rahner says, Heidegger’s interpretation has thus far been shown only to move within the horizon of temporality, death, and nothingness. Rahner wants to change this orientation—from a radical nothingness to “a choice between eternal death and eternal life before God, and not merely resoluteness towards death” (1969, 137). For Rahner this method of reading Heidegger is entirely defensible, because history as the place of revelation is also the place where Heidegger wants to push the human being, in opposition to the sheer “intellectualism” (131) of Kantian or Hegelian


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philosophies. In other words, Rahner wants to make Heidegger’s temporal history include the spiritual and the theological. Gaspar Martinez would concur with the assertion that Rahner’s method can accurately be called “transcendental,” (Martinez, 2001, 7) without excluding human experience because the method is precisely a “diving into the inner mechanisms and the implications of that experience in order to make explicit its depth and breadth and ultimately its ground.” Thus, the “transcendental” and the “categorical” in Rahner imply and require each other. Similarly, Andrew Tallon in his introduction to the Hearer of the Word makes clear that Rahner’s use of the word Vorgriff entails anticipation (Rahner, HW, xiv). All human action is within a horizon of anticipating the divine. In demystifying the idea of Vorgriff, Tallon asserts that its root meaning in “intentionality as embodied” moves it beyond a purely cognitive reading to a more concrete and historicized one. In other words, in his view, Rahner’s use of the idea of Vorgriff shows that the deeper idea of capax dei means that the “mystical” requires the turn to the other. Tallon thus stresses the ethical a priori in the Vorgriff : “the human composite is a premonition anticipating another person, the ethical human other; in my judgment, Rahner’s anthropological turn means [with Levinas] that this ethical anticipation precedes and makes possible the revelation by the divine person in history” (Rahner, HW, xiv). Not only is such a reading (emphasizing the ethical a priori over the cognitional a priori) in Rahner quite coherent in my view, but the idea of “existential” also intensifies the historical and concrete dimension of his theology of freedom. Human beings, in his view, because of an unalterable metaphysical structure, are free, incarnate spirits who must work out their destinies by participating in the historical process of a spatio-temporal world. Thus, there is an immutable relationship between the human being and God which grounds all our experiences of faith, hope, and love. Everyday experiences have a mystical bent to them through which we act on our freedom and responsibility. In this agenda, he succeeds. Nevertheless, his attempt to historicize freedom has been criticized by political and liberation theologians as not adequately dwelling on the particular instances of freedom in the concrete historical reality of human living. Differences among scholars regarding the extent to which Rahner is applicable or inapplicable to a political or liberation theology exist. Some, in a positive exegesis of Rahner, maintain that this evaluation may stem from a misunderstanding of the focus of Rahner’s transcendental theological method. As Francis Schüssler Fiorenza points out, unlike Kant’s use of the word, the word “transcendental” in

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Rahner, takes into account human history (Francis Schüssler Fiorenza, 2000, 211). John R. Sachs points out that Rahner himself was acutely aware of the dangers of the transcendental method emphasizing rather that “transcendental theology which seeks a priori conditions, proceeds in an a posteriori fashion upon the actual event of God’s self-communication in human history, specifically as witnessed and proclaimed in the church” (Sachs, 1992, 214). In Sachs’ assessment, human experience functions “probatively” (216) in Rahner’s theology, so that a connection can be established between human experience and the Gospel. Furthermore, there is a clear development in Rahner’s theology, from his preconciliar writings to the postconciliar ones, in which he manifests a greater understanding and sympathy to the concerns of political theology as said before. Even though Rahner makes many adjustments to a purely transcendental notion of freedom to include questions thrown up by history, the most obvious lacunae are those in the categories of culture, gender, and power in the knowing subject’s decision to act. This is not to say that Rahner does not have any sense of human beings in a cultural environment. In an essay titled “Christianity and the New Human Being,” (Rahner, TI: 5, 135–157), Rahner works out how Christianity is oriented toward the vision of a new human being in contemporary society. He presents here an understanding of contemporary pluralistic conceptions of the human being, especially as beings that have the power to transform and vivify society and history. The new human being is, in his view, preoccupied with visions of an “extra-Christian” future. In such a future, a new and unified history of human society is presupposed, explains Rahner, in which we have come to recognize that we are fully interdependent on each other, without us all being identified as “Christian.” Further, the human being of today is one “who is at home” with “technology, automation and cybernetics.” In such a world, agrees Rahner, the question of culture has become integral to the makeup of the human being. He states:
The human being is no longer (or at least no longer to any large extent) the human being who simply lives out their existence according to the given pattern of nature in an equally pre-existent environment, but someone who fashions their own environment . . . But in the past, culture, understood as something external, has on the whole consisted merely in such slight modifications of the human being’s natural environment as this environment itself is permitted: it consisted merely in the utilization of animals and plants in a certain systematic way, without any deliberate transformation of nature in the inorganic and


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However, for Rahner, in a spiritual and theological world-view, it is not sufficient that a human being base the self-transformation thus mentioned in terms of a mundane future of the world. What is required is that the self-transformation takes place with an eye to an eternal future, which is only brought about by spiritual acts. Freedom in Rahner is always enacted within a Christian teleological stance. Thus for Rahner, “culture” is to be brought under a theological perspective. It is significant here that Rahner is stating in no ambiguous manner that “culture” is part of the human beings’ ontological structure. Hence, even as we act to transform ourselves in culture, such an attempt has an eternal significance. In other words, a Christian metaphysics reasserts itself as the basis of such a transformation. That issue however, is not my main quibble here. My quibble has to do with the manner in which Rahner maps “culture”—he makes no mention of culture as the antagonistic and agonistic context in which human freedom is enacted. In other words, culture is not simply a positive context for self-transformation; rather, “culture” for many is also marked by the absence of power and the action of unjust power upon freedom. It is therefore not so much that the theological understanding of our acts in culture is problematic; rather, it is the very depiction of “culture” that is naïve and outmoded. It could well be that Rahner was making concessions to theological insight provided by his international cadre of students from early on. We could grant that his use of culture therefore was a response to the idea of “world-church” as it increasingly impressed his theological awareness. Freedom in the transcendental-metaphysical mode is evident in Rahner’s response to the excesses of European Enlightenment philosophy. Whereas “transcendental” had come to mean the plane on which philosophical ideas, pure ethical principles, God, and the cosmos itself as perfectly understandable, Rahner argues for the primacy of the anthropological starting point of these ideas. He accordingly secures a historicized metaphysical perspective. Further, through his use of the Thomistic framework, he is able to assert that the concrete in human life is pervaded by the actions and presence of God. What Rahner has succeeded in doing well here is to address the separation between theology and philosophy or, to put it another way, between religion and secular philosophy. In his hybrid philosophical and theological view, religion and social structures maintain an organic unity. It would be quite correct to assert that Rahner presents an autobiographical account of the theology of freedom. Precisely because

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Rahner understands freedom to be manifested in the concrete manner of the unity just described, it can be said that his starting point for a theology of freedom is not human experience in general or in the abstract, but rather, it is the exploration of the depths of his own human and Christian experience.4 In the essay “The Dignity and the Freedom of the Human being” (TI: 2, 235–263), the complex understanding of freedom almost belies his anthropological essentialism. The human being is spirit, freedom, an individual, a community builder, an incarnate, and mundane person in the world, a supernatural existential existing simultaneously in nature and supernature, and is one who is deeply aware of the “self-knowledge proceeding from a multiplicity of perceived objects” (241). Since freedom is an existential in the human being (246), it is a “datum of theological anthropology.” In other words, freedom as an existential is a constitutive dimension of the human being’s historical life. While freedom implies the ability to make choices and decisions, it is subject to “ontological and ethical” laws (247) that cannot allow for absolute creativity in the interpretation of decision and choice. Rahner here is making sure that he does not ascribe to the secular constructs of “equal rights” and predictably sets himself up in absolute opposition to secular equal rights discourse. A postcolonial theological imagination finds the following statement startling:
The tendency towards the attainment of an adequate material equality of rights for everyone would only mean the oppression of everyone, because it would be based on an interference with the different scope for freedom objectively ordained for every individual in particular. (247)

Such reasoning is problematic in postcolonial analyses because its determinist stance predestines some to have less objective freedom than others. A condition of such unfreedom cannot be rationalized by traditionalist theological methods. Moreover, in the age of economic late-capitalist generated globalization, it is quite evident that the structures that give rise to such inequalities can be challenged, changed, and transformed. Rather than theological rationalizations for economic, cultural, and political inequalities, what a postcolonial analysis would attempt to do is to understand the underlying material and structural causes that give rise to them. In his later writing on freedom, Rahner focuses on the engraced relationality that gives rise to human freedom. In the essay “Theology of Freedom,” (TI: 6, 178–196) Rahner sharpens the theological argument even more acutely—we may say that freedom only exists where


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God exists. Six theological theses address the issue of freedom. Given Rahner’s naïve and simplistic understanding of culture and religious plurality, these theses present postcolonial theology with an ambivalent moment. Yet, the focus on engraced relationality offers a way forward to imagine a theological anthropology where freedom occurs as a result of an ongoing graced relationship between God and others in the world. First, freedom in the theological sense is received from and directed toward God. Freedom’s theological character is revealed when we see that in every act of freedom God is “unthematically, but really willed” (TI: 6, 180). In other words, we can speak of freedom theologically purely because it is God who makes us grasp freedom both intellectually as well as affectively. Further, such a freedom is enacted also with reference to God—we can either say a “yes” or a “no” to God. However, even this radical capacity to deny or accept God is the result of “divinising grace.” Second, freedom is theologically understood as the attempt on the part of each of us to achieve the (Christian) finality of the human being. As a specifically Christian statement, this idea refers to the reality of salvation or damnation in the life of human beings—we are truly and finally responsible for how this eventuality will be played out in our lives. Such a theological idea “deepens” the meaning of freedom and grounds the human being’s ethical actions far more radically in a more universal and eternal time (TI: 6, 184). Given the requirement to present freedom as more a theological than secular idea, Rahner insists on linking freedom to individual responsibility and sin: a firmly Western and Christian ideal. In terms of cultures of survival, such delineations of individual responsibility fail to take into account the conflictual and inconsistent strategies that present very different perspectives on individual and communal responsibility. Third, freedom is regarded as the dialogic capacity to love. The dialogue takes place between God and human being, because freedom as self-realization is always self-realization before God and not selfrealization with regard to some mundane standard of existence. Presumably, for Rahner, the “mundane standard of existence” has to do with secular ideals such as equality and justice. Such “love” is not abstract, Rahner carefully states: “it is not a determined, assignable performance which one could define exactly, but rather that which every human being becomes in the irreplaceable characteristic of their always unique realization in nature, something which is known only once it is accomplished” (TI: 6, 187). In the choice of his words to describe dialogical love, Rahner seems to be anticipating the

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performative emphasis in future proposals for ethics in secular theory and to disavow them in advance. Fourth, freedom is mystery since it comes from God. Since God is the starting point, Rahner forbids the move to pose the epistemological question of the knowableness of freedom. It is not a datum of empirical psychology but is reflected in the subject’s transcendental experiences (TI: 6, 191). However, in the realm of freedom and responsibility and intersubjectivity, created freedom’s concrete presence can be identified. Theologically speaking, freedom is not really knowable and therefore is mystery. Rahner does not present freedom as untrammeled optimism. Hence, fifth, created freedom exists in an unavoidable situation of guilt. This means that the exercise of created freedom is in a historical realm that is tainted by sin (guilt). This is another reason why we can never really objectify freedom, says Rahner. What Rahner is saying here is important. Objectifying freedom means being able to give an account of freedom that is whole and complete. It is not possible in the context of finitude and human moral ambiguity and is a reminder to those theories that speak of freedom in absolutist language. As we shall see, all three postcolonial theorists that are being examined here possess the self-reflexive caution on freedom, liberation, and agency in this manner. As Rahner goes on to say, within a theological horizon of God’s judgment, conceptualizing freedom has the capacity to reveal the meaning and quality of not simply each individual life, but also the entire history of humanity (TI: 6, 195). Finally, freedom is an act of liberation on the part of God. This aspect of freedom reveals his stringently theological framework. Freedom is always an act of surrender to, and trust in, God. God reveals Godself in the dynamic of surrender and trust. Even as human beings exercise freedom in a situation of guilt and sin, the capacity to surrender and trust God comes as a gift from God. Rahner says here that the human being’s capacity to say “no” to God is really the result of God’s saying “yes” to human beings in God’s self-communication. Because such an enactment of freedom happens in the history of salvation, freedom itself is liberated into the immediacy of God’s being. For the enlightenment philosophers, notably Kant, it was critical to pose human freedom or autonomy as an opposition to religious practices and heteronomy. Rahner conclusively shows that a revised modern theology of freedom does not necessarily have to be in negative tension with human autonomy in the world. Nevertheless, the privileging of the theological mode immediately begs political questions.


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For example, in the case of long-term institutional coercion, what is the role of religiously willed ignorance and the absence of true autonomy? Or, when considering the critique of European subjectivity, what is the significance of the lack of theological critique in face of invidious othering? As many of the critiques of the Enlightenment have pointed out, Enlightenment subjectivity depended on the elision or the caricaturing of subjectivities other than the European. Asad for example (1993, Introduction) argues that the psychological reconstruction of European individuality was predicated on the encounter with the “savages” of Asia and Africa. How to concede that all human beings had a “common human nature” given the fact of these savages? The solution, says Asad was to assume that all human beings did indeed possess a common human nature but that they were at various stages of maturity and enlightenment. This continues even today. Consider for example how the world “modern” is applied with regard to various cultures or geopolitical entities. Once again, Asad perceptively notes that the solution that all human beings do possess a common human nature safeguards the biblical story of Creation and the Fall, but the newer story, a secular one of narrating European world hegemony still utilizes developmental terms. Such invidious othering has been noted in many theological critiques of liberation. However, theological critiques that perform race, class, and gender analyses are often seen to advance “special interest” or are named “advocacy theology” by disciplining authorities. This move accords them a special and/or marginalized stance that is at once legitimizing and delimiting. Next, the question that would be of critical interest to postcolonial theorists is how is the idea of the subject who is already positioned in colonial discourse and lacking any recourse to say exactly who s/he is, free? Further, the theological view of the human being as one with a “dialogic capacity to love” must be capable of expanding into the current climate of resurgent ethnic and religious warfare. In order to make his theological claim, Rahner depends on a rather idealistic and abstract form of human intersubjectivity. What does the result of the dialogic capacity to love look like in postcolonial contexts marked by violence? In what follows, we look at another component of Rahner’s theology of freedom that actually may have some relevance to political action and ethics. We have to keep in mind for a postcolonial theology that the idea of freedom that undergirds the discussions in contemporary Roman Catholic theology of identity and conversion, ethics and love and nonviolent polity need to be both political and theological.

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Rahner’s attempt to bridge the secular and religious divide is certainly the first step here. He has attempted to provide for a different emphasis on the relations between philosophical views and ordinary human life, performing a disarticulation of philosophy. However, the second step of bridging the religious and political divide, which takes into account the negotiations of power, seems to remain a tantalizing possibility. I suggest that this is the space into which postcolonial theology must enter. For Rahner, since the very exercise of freedom and responsibility are in themselves experiences of dependence on God, freedom is also mystical subjectivity or the mysticism of the everyday. Moreover, it is deeply grounded and rooted in Ignatian spirituality. Harvey Egan asserts in this regard that the spirituality of Ignatius of Loyola “indelibly influenced Rahner’s theology of the experience of grace” (Egan, 2005, 16) making Rahner “the preeminent theologian of experienced grace” (17). Mysticism of the everyday is not relegated to elite practices. It bears fruit in the realm of social life. Rahner therefore definitely understands the religious actor to play a role in public life. We have the capacity to “make” our experience of God:
The solitary Christian makes the experience of God and his liberating Grace in silent prayer, in the full decision of conscience, unrewarded by anyone, in the unlimited hope which can no longer cling to any particular calculable assurance, in the radical disappointment of life and in the powerlessness of death.5

Mystical subjectivity has a spiritual basis that is mediated by grace, in a silent, trusting, and hopeful disposition before God. Mystical subjectivity is not to be observed only in spiritual gymnasts; it is to be observed in every experience of spiritual indeterminacy that the human beings find themselves:
[We experience the supernatural] . . . when we let ourselves go in this experience of the spirit, when the tangible and assignable, the reliable element disappears, when everything takes on the taste of death and destruction, or when everything disappears as in an inexpressible, as it were white, colorless and intangible beatitude—then in actual fact it is not merely the spirit but the Holy Spirit who is at work in us. Then this is the hour of Grace. Then the seemingly uncanny, bottomless depth of our existence as experienced by us is the bottomless depth of God communicating Godself to us, the dawning of God’s approaching infinity which no longer has any set paths, which is tasted like a nothing because it is infinity. (TI: 3, 88–89)


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In other words, Rahner is saying that mystical subjectivity is the result of the human being’s disposing of the self to God in freedom, trust, and surrender and also that mystical subjectivity results in being grasped by grace in the Holy Spirit. The experience of the uncanny and the indeterminate in existence is a spiritual experience. This is the mysticism of everyday faith.6 Such an everyday mysticism leads to the possibility of making an “existential commitment” (TI: 16, 24–34). In other words, the human openness to the Spirit and God leads to a singular (ethical) action. Every choice, even choices such as the choice for a particular career or a choice for a particular behavior toward another person must according to Rahner “bring into play a definite, positive relationship to the prior, transcendental nature, raised up by grace and so to God” (TI: 16, 29). In so doing, human freedom is realized (as opposed to being something we talk about in the abstract). Rahner asserts here that the logic of the proposition of freedom as realized only in the making of a choice that bespeaks of the unity of spiritual experience and existential commitment may not lend itself to theoretical reason because it is best observed in spiritual practices such as the Ignatian exercises. There we see a radically “modern” move in making responsible choices, because only there does our unique destiny as willed by God become real (TI: 16, 135–155). Only in the deepest personal spirituality such as the Ignatian Exercises also do human beings realize that bodies are “self-expressions” of the spirit (TI: 17, 71–89). Thus, the human being’s bodily nature becomes the “reality” of the spirit, which has the capacity to “yield” itself up into mystery. This Thomistic view of the unity of human spirit and bodily life is exemplified in the following excerpt:
. . . it is precisely the human being’s task to be true to their nature and not try to escape from it. There is no area in which what we have said is not true. There is no “inwardness” which also does not stand open, as it were to what is without. The ultimate, most personal freedom, which is to be found where the human being is inevitably themselves, without any substitute or excuse at the heart of their being (or however we would like to express it)—the place, that is to say, where they are the absolute and irreplaceable subjects—is where they have something to do with Christ, and with all other men and women too. For, there are no spheres which can be cleanly separated from one another in existential cleavage. (TI: 17, 87)

Further, because of the unity of the love of God and love of neighbor, everyday mystical subjectivity concretely occurs in acts of unreserved

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love for another. In “Reflections on the unity of the love of neighbor and the love of God” (TI: 6, 231–249), Rahner declares:
Normally speaking, we merely say quite abstractly in our teaching on grace that the absolute, infinite transcendentality of the spirit is potentia oboedientialis for grace and that it is liberated by grace—in its infinity which of itself belongs to this transcendentality—from being the mere condition of the possibility of grasping a certain categorized object to being the possibility of immediate presence to God as God is in Godself. This declaration however, would have to be made concrete in the knowledge that from a more concrete point of view this potentia oboedientialis is precisely the transcendentality towards the other who is to be loved and who first of all is one’s fellow human being. (TI: 6, 243)

Clearly, as evident in the above excerpt, Rahner is suggesting that the very stance of grace is made concrete in the act of being loving to one’s neighbor and that the freedom that characterizes us as human arises in an encounter with the neighbor. Freedom and responsibility in such a view are undeniably enveloped in human/divine relationality to be concretely experienced in the experience of an encounter with the worldly “other.” There is also an incipient motif of embodied ethical relation in Rahner’s presentation. Spirituality immediately implicates the body and a spirituality in which the body is central for its commitment to the divine and human other makes this particular motif an interesting one on which postcolonial theological reflections can be brought to bear. Conversely, where we expect Rahner to be as brilliantly clear with regard to freedom, he disappoints. The social concept of freedom, Rahner asserts, in Meditations on Freedom and the Spirit (Rahner, 1977a, 36–71), is one that is notoriously difficult to pin down with any degree of precision. Social freedom escapes concretion in his analysis. His refusal to do so, in my view, presents one of the greatest tensions in Rahner’s idea of freedom as concretely and historically mediated. He performs a number of contrasting and contradicting moves that reveal his insistence on a specifically Christian reading of freedom. The issue here is less the Christian standpoint. It is more how Rahner understands Christian discourse to engage with other kinds of discourse. In the face of the creeping secularism of his day, Rahner prefers to usurp the discourses on secular conceptions of freedom to assert an unambiguous Christian provenance for them. The notion of society and culture as globalized challenges Rahner’s specifically Christian reading of social freedom. He is unable to


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accommodate the heterogeneity of subject positions in the context of pluralism. In contemporary times, Rahner would not have been faced with an overwhelming atheism or secularization in society. Rather, he would face the fact that religious metaphysics reasserts itself in the form of competing identity claims resulting in deadly and violent conflict.7 In such an environment, he would have to expand and amplify the sort of historical metaphysics that he attempts to do to a much greater extent and show how they present important resources to counter violence in relation to religious, gendered, and national difference. Thus, in his depiction of social freedom as something that escapes reflection into that “sphere of incomprehensibility” or mystery seems rather disingenuous because he promptly also says that freedom must not be mystified to such an extent that it becomes worthless to fight for it “in the concrete” (Rahner, 1977a, 37). The fight for freedom however, cannot be simply for an elimination of simple restrictions to our freedom because freedom is primarily to be understood as “religious.” It is oriented towards God, and is based in the Christian and Pauline notion as something that we have through grace and participation. Such a freedom also means a freedom from enslavement formed by sin, death, and radical selfishness, which prevents us from loving our neighbor. Obviously here, Rahner is attempting to distance himself from any secular humanist goals. Hence it is quite clear here that he is speaking to a narrow audience. Next, even as he acknowledges that in contemporary times the idea of social freedom has become a great concern, he maintains that the idea of religious freedom is not the only possible basis for the actual and real existence of social freedom (39). Thus, he says:
Social freedom as such also has its own dignity and right to exist in this mutual relationship of reciprocal conditioning between religious and civil freedom as well as the space of social freedom . . . This social freedom should be itself even when the situation is the same or even better (the “situation” being what is made objective by it) without that freedom. (40)

Social freedom has its own “dignity,” in that it conditions the possibility of freedom in the religious sense in the world. In my view, this particular assertion is in direct contrast to what he is saying in the beginning of this essay. He continues by maintaining that social freedom has its own dignity only because the subject who is free in the

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religious sense can express this freedom in the material conditions of their reality. Second, eternal salvation is not something that is situated in a different time and space; it is rather, the transformation and the end of history here on earth (40). But what exactly is his meaning here? If the goal of freedom is to transform society and history here on earth, what moves need to be made in order to show how freedom and subjectivity contribute to such a state of affairs? He concedes further that Christian theologians have not been concerned much with the transformation of society and history here and now because of their dependence on an older anthropology in which it was not apparent that an individual’s concrete position with regard to freedom could undergo change and also that society itself could not be affected by any planned change. Nevertheless, he does not make any concrete suggestions as to how to ameliorate the conditions of unfreedom that Christians especially (because they know the nature of freedom) need to counter. The Christian has a duty to fight for social freedom because a “maximum of freedom (understood in the correct sense) will soon be a minimum condition for the continued existence of society” (54). It is clear here that Rahner is aware that conditions of social unfreedom exist to inhibit a person from attaining the possibility of self-actualization and subjectivity in freedom, but it also seems that he is trying to find a middle way between committed political movements for liberation (too liberal?) and pious acceptance of the status quo (too conservative?). There is a problem here with Rahner’s strict adherence to the Christian tradition mediated through Thomas Aquinas with regard to social freedom, even though it is not entirely surprising since he is also attempting to represent the institutional church in the delineation of human freedom. However, I think that in stating so baldly that religious freedom conditions social freedom, he is placing in jeopardy the anthropological starting point for a theology of freedom. Instead of being consistent with the idea that it is a historical metaphysics that is of value, Rahner surreptitiously undercuts his more creative solution to the problem of modernity and asserts instead an apologetic notion protecting the Christian view. The problem here is that such an apologetic function attempts to garner ecclesiastical control over human freedom. In the postcolonial context, the attempt to garner and secure ecclesiastical control over freedom in this manner greatly inhibits the ability of postcolonial Christians to live with the idea of porous borders. His methodology of interpreting the analyses of freedom in discourses other than that of official Catholicism from a strictly “Churchy” view cannot stand up to the complex requirements


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of cultures of survival. Theological thinking about freedom therefore, must adopt a methodology that is appropriately contextual. To be fair, the theological view of freedom does not lead automatically in Rahner to a denial of real situations of unfreedom. However, instead of referring to such situations as an inversion of freedom, Rahner prefers to interpret such situations as relating to the general situation of sinfulness, which requires consequently the salutary activity of God. For example, he maintains that freedom within society can be “manipulated.” Manipulation can be equated with violence, in a metaphysical, anthropological, and theological sense, when one impinges upon the space of another’s freedom. Such a situation can only be redeemed in light of God’s plan for the salvation of the world. But what of the ability of societies and individuals to reflect on the capacity to manipulate? Can we borrow other ways of thinking that will reveal to us the evil of unfreedom in postcolonial contexts? Postcolonial thought will ask sharper questions to the more complexly perceived problems of “manipulated” and institutionalized freedom. Rahner’s mode of countering secular challenges to the theological understanding of freedom is to simply reassert the Christian standpoint uncritically. To recapitulate, Rahner’s presentation of freedom in its metaphysical, mystical, and social aspects demonstrates key inconsistencies. Freedom in its metaphysical and mystical aspects is historicized to align it more closely with modern understanding of experience, but freedom in its social aspect, is rather spiritualized even as he asserts it to have historical reality. It can be that Rahner contradicts himself because the nature of social freedom escapes him. Or else, it can be that Rahner does not go as far as he can to historicize freedom, as his Christian theological framework simply does not have the capacity to imagine concrete freedom in the manner of liberation philosophies and theologies. Adequate attention to the social and cultural contexts in which freedom is enacted is not evident in Rahner and such a lack needs to be immediately addressed. That Rahner can accommodate the dialogue between critical social theories and his theological standpoint is clear. As we shall see below, it is Johann Baptist Metz who impels Rahner to become more relevant to the political context in which freedom is analyzed. The constructive openness that Rahner demonstrates therefore presents a hopeful moment for postcolonial theology in that a critical but positive retrieval of Rahner’s theology of freedom is mandated by this very openness and marks a new way to be theological. In the following

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section, I will examine the political and postcolonial context in which Rahner’s theology of freedom needs to be further developed. I will therefore first present a thumbnail sketch of Metz’s critique of Rahner because it presents the first challenge to his theology of freedom from the perspective of political theology. It can be argued that Metz’s vision for a political theology of freedom amply addresses the main issue that we have been looking at this far: that Rahner’s theology of freedom needs to be less abstract and more concrete. Nevertheless, even though Metz correctly calls for Rahner’s theology of freedom to be less abstract, his solutions in political theology are similarly inadequate to postcolonial concerns. Postcolonial theology is not political theology even though there are many points of intersection and mutual interest. The main difference between the two is that political theologies chart unidirectional movements of power. As we shall see, a key advance made by postcolonial theorists is that power flows in all directions. Hence, the collusions, alliances, and associations of postcolonial societies with colonizing power offer a much more complex vista than a number of (early) political theologies. Moreover, political theology seeks to secure participation of disadvantaged and disenfranchised groups by asserting “pluralism,” “polycentrism,” and “solidarity.” In postcolonial theory, these vanguards of liberal Western European agenda are highly suspect. The call to pluralism, polycentrism, and participation is a start, but once again does not in itself secure mutuality in social, political, and cultural relations. In other words, the ideals of political theology, which are encapsulated by the ideas of pluralism, polycentrism, and solidarity, when critically evaluated in the discursive context of freedom that postcolonial theorists prefer to speak of, reveal the bourgeois white middle class subject as representing otherness in a particular way. Such representation is well meant, but it is based on a view of otherness as exotic and desirable. “Solidarity” in this view tends to be entirely self-serving to the Western subject. Western agendas of multiculturalism, which were the natural consequence of such liberal politics, are thoroughly criticized in postcolonial theory as simply advancing older forms of domination in a new way. However, the important point to be emphasized here is not that political theology is wholly inimical to the concerns of postcolonial theology, but that it is inadequate in the face of postcolonial theory’s critical concerns. The fact is political theology represents a stage in the development of Rahner’s theology of freedom and I am arguing that, as such, it is time to move on to the next stage.


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Political and Liberation Theologies
This section attempts to evaluate the difference between postcolonial theology and political and liberation theologies. It is obviously not a whole-scale interpretation, but an admittedly limited foray into the development of freedom in Metz and liberation in Gustavo Gutierrez. Gaspar Martinez clearly outlines the continuities and discontinuities to be observed in Metz and Gutierrez (Martinez, 2005). Continuities are established between these theological perspectives and Rahner’s, through the pastoral focus on presenting a theology that is practical and meaningful within specific contexts. Metz, for example, in continuity with Rahner, seeks to address the privatization of religion that took foothold in the secularized context of Europe. The discontinuous moment with Rahner can be seen in his emphasis on the forgotten in history. In my view, the continuities and discontinuities with Rahner are clearest in Metz’s own thought regarding human freedom. In the essay, “Freedom as a Threshold Problem between Philosophy and Theology” (Metz, 1964, 1965, 264–279), Metz accepts Rahner’s basic perspective on freedom as having a transcendental character in that it relates to human knowing and being. However, in his opinion, the first task of theology is to study freedom as an expression of this transcendental freedom or freedom as it occurs in the concrete. In other words, Metz is seeking after the nature of freedom from within history. Thus, it is not really a direct opposition to Rahner that is evident here, only a reading of freedom starting from the historical pole. Metz maintains, in accordance with Rahner, that freedom has a transcendental character as well as a “categorical” aspect in that freedom can be observed in the collection of free acts. Further, for Metz too, as in Rahner, the basic faculty of the human being is freedom—the human being is freedom and freedom is subjectivity. However, in his view, it is erroneous to think that human beings are “pure freedom” for they have created natures. This is his primary corrective move against Rahner’s abstractness. “Subjectivity” in Metz is actualized in the limits of historical decisions. Human freedom is less a discussion about nature and person, and therefore quibbles less with Rahner concerning the idea that human beings are “pure nature” (1965, 266). His major contention, however, is regarding the situational character of freedom. Thus, it is the historicity of Metz’s ideas of freedom that initiates the break with transcendental theology. As Francis Schüssler Fiorenza asserts, Metz’s strongest critique of Rahner was with regard to transcendental theology’s apparent forgetfulness that emphasized historicity but overlooked “historical failures” such

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as the Holocaust (Schüssler Fiorenza, 2000, 277). In other words, Metz seeks to develop a theology of freedom that is aware of the effects of power in history. To counter the forgetfulness in Rahner’s transcendental theology, Metz advocates a “remembering” of dangerous events that have the potential to present us with a more accurate portrait of human subjectivity. With specific regard to human freedom, therefore, he articulated a theology of “sociality” (1965, 278) or a more “historical-existential” (Schüssler Fiorenza, 1965–1966, 247–252) or “situational character of freedom” (ibid.). Metz’s political-theological subject goes beyond the understanding implied in Rahner’s transcendental theology to include the idea of the “subject as belonging to a people in the presence of God” (Metz, 1964, 1965, 280). This membership in a particular community engenders a solidarity with the rest of the members of the community and together with their mutual hope of liberation presents us with a different theological concept of the human subject. There is much here that is of interest to a postcolonial theology. In A Passion for God: The Mystical-Political Dimension of Christianity (1998), Metz identifies the moves a political theology makes to move beyond “Idealist theology” and argues instead for a mystical-political basis for theology. A postidealist development is subsequent to the transcendentalist-idealist paradigm (itself following the neoscholastic one) and consequently is critical of the other two approaches. Metz explains here how transcendental theology challenged the traditionalist and defensive position of neoscholastic theology, which was reluctant to engage deeply with the challenges of modernity. Just as Rahner posed his questions to neoscholastic theology, Metz poses his questions to Rahner’s theology in the light of contemporary crises in society today. However, the moves toward a political theology for Metz are very much indebted to Rahner’s modernizing moves.8 Metz asks his questions through the concern with modern secularism (just as Rahner did) and also through concerns arising from engagement with Marxism and critical theory. The manner in which to address these concerns for Metz, however, is to follow in the footsteps of Jesus Christ. The creative remembering of the past and its dangerous memories ought to give us the strength to follow Jesus Christ closely in a praxis of discipleship. Thus, the imitatio Christi is demanded by such praxis. It is this praxis, a specific practice of mysticism that will have liberating potential for Christians today. Once again it can be argued that Rahner would not be averse to such a reading of this own development of discipleship and intentional disposing of oneself before


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God. Metz, however, frames such a call to a mystical-political theology in a much more practical and engaged manner than Rahner. A mystical-political method in theology addresses the three areas (Metz, 1998, 32) that Metz identifies as unique for theology today: the Marxist challenge, especially that of a “dualistic understanding of history,”9 the catastrophe of Auschwitz,10 and the “challenge of the third world,”11 which brings to an end the Eurocentrism of modern theology. Metz’s call for new and continuing developments in theology is more relevant to our time and hence provides one impetus for this book. However, it seeks to move beyond his agenda. For one thing, Metz’s thought is imbricated in the Western Christian intellectual tradition. Postcolonial theory, which is similarly aligned with the Western and Christian intellectual traditions, is evaluated by postcolonial theology to miss the mark in addressing the nexus of faith and power in the context of colonial and neocolonial reality. Articulating traditional theological categories in this changed environment becomes a critically important project for “other” Catholic communities elsewhere in the world. Of immediate relevance is the absence of a political ethics (Schüssler Fiorenza, 2000, 283) in Metz’s political theology that postcolonial theology must address. Concomitantly, the biggest constructive task facing theological endeavor elsewhere than Europe or North America is to show how political ethics links faith and practice. Both Rahner and Metz represent advances beyond ecclesiastical concerns regarding human freedom in that they are seen to question the tradition for deception and illusion. It may well be argued that if there are so many similarities between Rahner and Metz, and that if the differences between the two led to the development of political theology, then either a modified form of Rahner’s theology as political theology or Metz’s political theology by itself can perform the political function that we are saying is lacking in Rahner. Consider, however, one of Metz’s key ideas and solutions to the problems highlighted by political theology: solidarity with victims of oppression. Solidarity in his understanding is a countermeasure to the modernist reliance in Rahner on the individualist humanist subject. From the perspective of postcolonial theory, Metz’s idea of solidarity only presents a liberal bourgeois agenda for a “Eurocentric” audience. It does not show how the postcolonial subject articulates freedom, agency, and subjectivity. Questions of identity, gender, and nonviolent resistance are not part of political theology’s agenda, and “solidarity” does not enhance the probability of subaltern agency in its discourse. The idea of solidarity especially in a triumphalist mode, in the

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postcolonial framework, has the very opposite effect of what it set out to do in the first place, as contemporary postcolonial thinkers decry:
We have to deal, not only with the old dangers of occultism and irrationality, but also with the new evils represented by the rational application of irrationality. There is a utopian element here too and it is signaled in the antidemocratic but nonetheless modern value of fraternity and projected through the desire for a simpler world premised on racial sameness and racial certainties. Homogeneity and hypersimilarity become the principles of a hierarchical, authoritarian and antimodern bonding. Solidarity here is simulated in silent, spectacular rituals that must remain voiceless in order to mask the difference within the totality. (Gilroy, 2000, 237, emphasis added)

The major problem with triumphalist solidarity as argued in the above excerpt is that it becomes another strategy for masking and downplaying important differences that are ceaselessly negotiated under conditions of unequal power. While it can be argued in countering such a charge against Metz’s view of solidarity that he also presents us with important ways in which to frame pluralistic fora in which nonEurocentric peoples can participate, it must be kept in mind that even such attempts to ensure the participation of the most disenfranchised does not secure agency for them. This point will become clearer in the context of Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak’s analysis on the gendered subaltern, for instance. Metz’s agenda to highlight the memory of suffering in political theology also is problematic. In postcolonial theory for example, major strides have been accomplished to move away from any kind of victimology that obscures the freedom and agency of the postcolonial subject. In fact, in postcolonial theory the push is to move agency into the temporal present so that there is no possibility of such victimology or false sense of some glorious primal and (un)violent past. Most importantly, Metz’s formulation depends on the binary of oppressed/oppressor as the fundamental logic for his political theology. Postcolonial theory assiduously seeks to move beyond the binary of oppressor/oppressed because the web of relations between the colonizer and colonized depends on negotiations, interdependence, and acknowledgment of mutual cultural contagion. My rather brusque dismissal of Metz’s profound theological gains depends on a certain misreading of Metz. Political theology has evolved with time and currently is a sophisticated framework that allows us to engage theology and political questions. I admit that my argument caricatures Metz’s work only because any in-depth analysis requires a much fuller


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treatment than I have attempted here. I fully expect that as more postcolonial theological developments in parts of the world that are yet to join the conversation do join or are allowed to join, no doubt more cogent lines of continuity will be drawn between Metz, his interpreters, and political theology in general. Liberation theology on the other hand, presents many opportunities for the postcolonial theologian to engage the concerns specific to postcolonial contexts. In my reading, liberation theology gains much from Rahner’s presentation of social freedom and the manipulativeness of sinful freedom. Sin is the misuse of freedom in the social, structural, political, and economic spheres. Martinez points out that Gutierrez’s theological perspective differs from Rahner’s in the manner that he intensifies Rahner’s method, moving away from the understanding of freedom as an existential toward an understanding of freedom and liberation in the concrete (Martinez, 2005, 250). The method of liberation theology emphasizes praxis. Liberation theology therefore arises out of specific concern for those under conditions of tremendous exploitation, dehumanization, and exclusion due to systemic poverty. Postcolonial theology attempts to struggle with these primary issues as well. The difference between postcolonial theology and liberation theology is a small but significant set of additional concerns to sharpen the above analyses. Take, for example, one illustration of Roman Catholic liberation theology that has made its mark on the North American academic theological scene. U.S. Hispanic theology (González, 1990; Deck, 1992; Segovia, 1992; Espin, 1992; Aquino, 1993; Isasi-Díaz, 1993; Goizueta, 1995; Pineda, 1995; García-Rivera, 1998; Díaz, 2001) critiques Euro-American theology for its inattention to the concrete historical conditions of the poor and its relativizing posture with regard to culture-sensitive theologies that articulate a specific cultural starting point. In every way, therefore, it exists in prophetic relation to the center’s theological enterprise. In response to criticisms of Latin American liberation theology (Schüssler Fiorenza, 2000, 301), Hispanic theologians in the United States have developed theories of ethics and justice (Goizueta, 2005). Goizueta identifies “liberating praxis” (174) as the context of doing theology as a preferential option for the poor and the specific context that he has identified is that of popular religion in the life of the community. Latino/a popular Catholicism itself is a response to the hegemonizing tendencies of Euro-American Catholic theology. Goizueta is resolute in his delineation of the ethical-political in that the option for the poor can be demonstrated clearly to be an option for God

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since God is preferentially present among the poor. Faith for Goizueta is possible only when the cries of the poor and their suffering inform our search for God. Faith in the context of the power and wealth of the United States is therefore in the clear option being made for the least in this affluent society. U.S. Hispanic popular Catholicism further contributes to such a theological argument in its retrieval of ordinary narratives, symbols, and rituals as capable of revealing God’s universal and gratuitous love. However, R.S. Sugirtharajah’s words of caution challenge the postcolonial thinker to go even farther than these prophetic voices from the margin of Euro-American theology. He argues that the more serious issue of identity has to do with living in an ever-wider and more complex web of cultural negotiation and interaction with people from diverse cultures, religions, and languages. Postcolonial theology cannot be present in the “exhausted indigenization/contextualization model” (Sugirtharajah, 2003, 124) of pure, unalloyed, clearly observable cultural identity. Instead, “culture” as Schreiter (drawing on postcolonial theory) asserts, is a “ground of contest in relations” (Schreiter, 1997, 54). U.S. Hispanic theology is highly reflective in the manner that power constructs its cultural identity. But can it continue to investigate this one axis of identification when, in fact, it exists in a highly complex situation of minoritized identity formation in relation to other minoritized groups? Hence, what does U.S. Hispanic theology look like in the highly racialized and plural U.S. context in relation to other minoritized immigrant groups given that the word “immigrant” immediately signals “Hispanic” for Anglo-fascist politics? The word “immigrant” to Anglo-fascism peddling its vitriolic nativism in the current debate is almost collapsed with “illegal” with specific racial and class overtones. The theological response to such institutionalized racism requires that each group that is othered by the dominant power find ways to affiliate with the rest and address the structurally legitimized fascist responses inaugurated in the debate for continued dominance. The theological enterprise would require more than a focus on identity politics from all such groups. In other words, investigating the positioning of identities in relation to the center is a key analytic for postcolonial theology. Finally, I join postcolonial theorists in the suspicion that identitybased theories (or theologies) are carefully managed doppelgangers of imperializing theologies. “Liberation theology” for example commonly refers to theology being done in one particular part of the world—it is racialized and codified in terms of the center—and one


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need not acknowledge the negotiation in the structure of power between such (self) authorized and (self) verified identities, denying thereby the fact that others have indeed attempted liberation theologies from other parts of the world (Pieris, 1988). Neither can postcolonial theology afford to ignore the anxious appeals of the center’s plea for clearly authorized identity. This is to be seen in the competitions being set up by academic theology between various minoritized groups in the United States who attempt to do theology. Liberation theology therefore is clearly “Latin” or “Hispanic” (for the center and its guardians) and the Indian variety of liberation theology is called “Dalit” while liberation theologies arising in the continent of Africa are simplistically addressed as “African liberation theology.” Identitybased liberation theologies therefore are carefully cultivated by the center, at the center, and in great part, for the center. The liberal and multiculturalist vanguard of this movement performs a similar confinement gesture. In insisting that the reader “find themselves” in Rahner or other Western theological paragons, the punctual bourgeois subject simply reappears with a “different” but currently desirable or exotic accent, color, dress, and otherness. My point here, similar to Asad’s claim with regard to the construction of “religion,” is that identity-based readings of Western theology obscure the manner in which such theology is produced, authorized, and circulated by the academy. It is a far more interesting task instead to engage these thinkers with a sense of these dynamics as part of the problem of interpretation and study of these texts. Sugirtharajah points out in this regard that three moments attend the “acceptance” of third-world theologies by the center (Sugirtharajah, 2003, 166–174). The first is the manner in which identity and method, commodified by the center, transform a theology that was liberative and prophetic in its native context to become a theology about liberation commodified and legitimized by the center. Speaking about one’s theology promptly takes away its creative potential to address structural inequities or to make arguments for its transformation. Postcolonial theorists constantly argue that when the center attempts to legitimize identity-based theory, the status of the “native-informant” is accorded to the new voice. Needless to say, this is a management technique for knowledge production in the academy. Consequently, these defanged theologies about liberation invoke prescriptive responses that effectively keep the consumers of these theological perspectives paralyzed and unable to examine their own collusion in the systemic poverty they are being conscientized about. In other words, knowledge of third world theology rarely

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includes the demand for self-reflection on the part of legitimizing authority. Finally, and most seriously, theologies about liberation run the risk of being ghettoized and are present in theological curricula and syllabi as addendum to the more “universal” ways of doing theology. The third-world theologian (and U.S. Hispanic Liberation theologians are correct in this, the third world is alive and well in the first world) becomes a cog in the disciplinary machine called “multiculturalism.” Postcolonial theology must instead, undertake a different project that will consistently question the relationship of liberation and culture-sensitive theologies to the center while being self-reflective on the issue of identity construction. The collusion with power will reveal that not only is the third world alive and well in the first world but that the first world is alive and well in the third world allowing for the possibility of migration and mobility to the resource rich parts of the world. The right class, race, and often gender are critical to academic success and visibility, a point often ignored by the aggressive identity politics of authorized multiculturalism in the academy. Postcolonial theory follows the intersectional model of analysis of oppression currently being employed in many forms of liberation theology including U.S. Hispanic theology, Latino/a theology, Black theology, and feminist theology. The multiple axes of analysis yield a disarticulated theology— that is, a theological method that deliberately eschews a coherent and unified whole as shall become clearer in the next section. What has been sketched thus far in this section is the inadequacy of both political and liberation theologies for the postcolonial context even as it is important to recognize that they represent the original critique and development of Rahner’s theology of freedom. The inadequacy of political theology becomes even clearer in the following sketch of colonial and anticolonial discourse on independence and agency. Whereas Metz was responding to the perceived problems of secularism, Marxism, and critical theory, in postcolonial theory, the reliance on secularism, Marxism, and critical theory advances a different set of issues than what Metz was dealing with. For example, in anticolonial writings, the idea of oppressed subjectivity, ethical action, and religious identity gain importance, and in postcolonial theory, the discursive context in which cultural identity, normative agency, and visibility for “gendered subalterns” becomes critical. Another interesting development that will become of increasing concern to theologies being articulated within the concrete history of colonization is the happy use to which academic postcolonial theory is put in service of white, liberal, middle-class, multicultural theology that benignly engages in the invidious competitions of othering. Here, postcolonial


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theology’s additional task will need to clearly articulate the difference between varieties of decolonization rather than go along with the collusive agenda of collapsing all internal critiques of capitalism and Western imperialism as “postcoloniality” (Spivak, 1997, 483).

Postcolonial, Anticolonial, and Decolonizing Theory
One of the key issues requiring explanation in postcolonial theology is the provenance and genealogy of the idea “postcolonial.” I attempt here only to chart one trajectory: the Indian development; the global context of postcolonial theory in general has been traced by a number of authors (for example, Ashcroft, Griffiths and Tiffin, 1989, 1998; Ahmad, 1992; Moore-Gilbert, 1997; Chow, 1998; Gandhi, 1998; Loomba, 1998; Sugirtharajah, 1998). These more general developments have contributed in great part to the general discourse on postcolonial theory while the specifically Indian development which started out strongly in its anticolonial stance dropped sharply in the postcolonial and decolonized one. The term “postcolonial” is also beleaguered by “postcolonial” theorists such as Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak and Ashis Nandy. As we shall see, one of the most critical contributions of postcolonial thought is its self-reflexive capacity to resist cooptation by the corporate academic establishment in order to retain its oppositional framework. A first and original response in India is to be observed in a thinker such as Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi. For Gandhi, it is true that “freedom” meant “independence” (Gandhi in Raghavan Iyer, 1993) from all European colonial presence (British, French and Portuguese) in India. “Independence” did not mean a wholly nationalist agenda (Gandhi absolutely repudiated any religious nationalism); rather, it referred to self-governance (swaraj ) at all levels. It begins “at the bottom” where every village or panchayat (local government) has full powers. Independence is to be enacted both at the level of the individual, in an attempt to purify oneself so that the encounter with another human being is a loving and nonviolent one, and also at the level of the community, so that its memory of its violent past is superseded by the ethical requirements of the present moment. Only in this way could a society based on Truth and Nonviolence come into existence. As such, therefore, it was a process that Indians had to engage in—a self-purification from the trammels of power and pride. The moral ground that Gandhi argues from is the recognition of complicity in the colonial process. Only in this way could he ask for an ethical

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response from the Indians themselves and seek personal and community transformation in the manner that he envisioned. While Gandhi exemplifies anticolonial resistance, postcolonial theorists reflecting on the Indian experience draw on him to delineate their theoretical responsibilities in the current political context. Ashis Nandy (1983),12 for example, points out that the particular sort of colonialism that survived in India after the imperial power left the colony required attentive transformation. Indians who were unable to shake off internalized colonial conditions often worked closely with the requirement of empire to manage dissent. Officially sanctioned dissent, for Nandy, is a mark of empire. Here, the binary relationship between the West and the non-West is maintained for the benefit of the neocolonial West. What is “Indian,” therefore, in relation to the requirement of the West, is to perform the stereotypical view of what “India” ought to mean. It points to a complicity in the manner in which anticolonial dissent is inaugurated and sustained in contemporary discourses. In Nandy’s view, Gandhi provides us with the model to break through such self-defeating strategies. Thus Nandy argues:
. . . liberation ultimately had to begin from the colonized and end with the colonizers. As Gandhi was to so clearly formulate through his own life, freedom is indivisible, not only in the popular sense that the oppressed in the world are one but also in the unpopular sense that the oppressor too is caught in the culture of oppression. (Nandy, 1983, emphasis added)

Nandy’s postcolonial theoretical stance mimics Gandhi’s in that the force of the binary logic of colonizer and colonized or the logic of victim and oppressor is denied. Gandhi’s original anticolonial resistance becomes a model for postcolonial thinking that is prepared to account for the manner in which discourses sustain the deep divisions of neocolonialism. In blurring the boundaries of oppressor/oppressed, Nandy can call for deep personal and institutional transformation based on spiritual values and less on secular humanist goals, just as Gandhi did in the anticolonial context. “Freedom” and political independence then are presented as a process of spiritual transformation, the unique goal of which is resistance through nonviolence. Postcolonial theory, therefore, is constantly examining how power relates to the construction of identity positions. Any ethical-political theory that hesitates to rigorously examine its complicity in upholding imperial aspirations presents collusion with colonization. Nandy therefore performs what postcolonial


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thought ought to do: decolonize the mind. His perspective is the development of the critical function especially in terms of notions of empire, liberal capitalism, and development. Postcolonial thinking in his work is demonstrated in the manner that he inhabits the space of the internal dissenter of globalizing theories and praxis. Nandy lives in India and therefore occupies a very different intellectual and cultural space than Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak and Homi Bhabha, both of whom are situated in the metropole’s elite academies. Thinkers such as Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak and Homi Bhabha primarily write to counter the effects of an “elitist historiography,” in which the subjects under colonization and its aftermath are reduced to objects with muted or silent voices, precisely through the machinations of liberal Euro-American solutions such as “polycentrism,” “solidarity,” and multiculturalism. The very attempt to “include the other” manages to silence the ones being championed by a liberal bourgeois agenda. Nowhere is the problem more insidious and dangerous than for poor women of the south. For Spivak, the problem is that of the “gendered subaltern”13 never being able to speak for herself, because the inclusion of these women is occasioned less by ethical concerns and more by issues of power. In an early essay called “French Feminism in an International Frame” (1987, 134–153), Spivak incisively reads Julia Kristeva against the grain to expose the privileged position of power from which Kristeva speaks:
Her question, in the face of those silent women, is about her own identity rather than theirs . . . In spite of their occasional interest in touching the other of the West, of metaphysics, of capitalism, their repeated question is obsessively self-centered: if we are not what official history and philosophy say we are, who then are we (not), how are we (not)? (137)

Thus the question here is one of representing the mute “other” of the West. Spivak would even go so far as to claim that any recovery of the mute subaltern (even in solidarity) from the standpoint of the privileged West is a betrayal. Further, given the reality of complicity in the colonial context, “solidarity” as we saw earlier, becomes an agenda imposed on the colonized subject from without—one that does not guarantee her response and subjectivity in this context. For the heterogeneous postcolonial subject, the very idea of a difference flattening solidarity would be inimical to the postcolonial enterprise. Rather than utopian solidarity, Spivak presents a challenging counter move for an ethical program in the postcolonial context. She

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advocates a “one-on-one-ethical-relation-in love.” This requires the embodied participation and response of gendered subalterns within and to the exclusion of power. Gendered subalterns need more than solidarity. Or, if solidarity is of the triumphal kind, it is not needed at all. As is evident, Spivak draws on postcolonial theory to communicate a specific reading strategy for feminists. In her criticism of projects that attempt to chart subaltern activity as the coherent action of single subjects, she argues that even such representations which are well-meaning attempts to chart the subjectivity of oppressed groups serve only to further an agenda that homogenizes and silences, especially silencing the voice of the weakest and most vulnerable. Colonialism, in her view, engendered a specific form of nonsubjectivity— the kind that is defined and constrained by the colonial power. In such a view, the colonized, even when sincere attempts are being made to represent their subjectivity, only appear in discourses as silent, muted, oppressed others. Instead, she enjoins the Subaltern Studies group to pay particular attention to the manner in which subaltern populations remain subjects of their own history and actors on their own behalf. Seeing and understanding the non-European “other” as not existing in a less advanced state of development is key in her work. Since she wishes to identify agential activity in the literatures of colonial, postcolonial, and neocolonial discursive contexts, Spivak advances the idea of strategic essentialism, a ploy whereby the women who are constantly spoken about interrupt and initiate their own life-giving and transforming responses to a world that denies them any capacity for such change. Ever attentive to complicity like Nandy, Spivak persistently interrogates the role of the Indian intellectual in the U.S. academic scene. In fact, she provides the most cogent argument against postcolonial theory being commodified by liberal U.S. academia. Postcoloniality is specifically not decolonization. Liberal academics in the United States cannot forswear the role U.S. corporate academic institutions plays in maintaining the new global order. She writes:
Among many of the participants [who teach multicultural English] . . . teachers and students, there is talk of something called postcolonialism. These pages may be seen as an elaboration of a response to that trend: given the role of the US in what has been called “recolonization,” if there is to be a US postcolonialism, it can only be a transnational literacy; for postcoloniality is a failure of decolonization. (Spivak, 1997, 469, Original emphases)


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Homi Bhabha, on the other hand, is actively in search of an anticolonial/ postcolonial subjectivity without subscribing to modernist subjectivist frameworks. As R.S. Sugirtharajah maintains (2003, 15), Bhabha is keener to present postcoloniality as a condition of being as opposed simply to a textual or discursive strategy. Postcolonialism in Bhabha, according to Sugirtharajah, is a “mental attitude” of subversion to all claims of knowledge. As a critical enterprise, postcolonialism attempts to unmask the link between the production of ideas and power. For theology, as was asserted in the Preface, this is a rather new moment. All theological perspectives are analyzed through the lens of power and the methodology of “contrapuntal reading” yields a view of how truth is asserted in theology. Similarly, Bhabha brings to his analyses the attitude of radically “syncretizing oppositions” (Sugirtharajah, 1998, 15), drawing on anticolonial literature and history. In his Location of Culture (1994), for example, he asserts that it is time for us, in the fin de siècle, to think beyond the highly problematic “originary subjectivities” that occupy positions of “race, gender, generation, institutional location, geopolitical locale and sexual orientation” and think rather in terms of “moments and processes that are produced in the articulation of cultural differences” (Bhabha, 1994, 1). He discerns a radically mutable political entity at the moment of anticolonial insurgency. In the aftermath of the colonial encounter, rather than the polarities that are indicated in much anticolonial polemic, there is instead a “third space,” a place of “hybridity” where the new political subject “begins its presencing.” Agency, in his view, is created precisely in a process, as negotiation. Rather than a “consensual and collusive liberal sense” of identity, the postcolonial perspective insists that cultural and political identities are constructed through a process of negotiating alterity in the context of power (Bhabha, 1994, 175). In these cultures of survival, where “survival of culture” (Bhabha, 1994, 171) is the hoped for result, Bhabha notes elaborate strategies of emancipation. “Culture” for Bhabha is an enactive, enunciatory site wherein “objectified others may be turned into subjects of their history and experience” (178). In this view, subjectivity is a performance and a negotiation between persons. Because Bhabha is able to show that cultural boundaries are much more permeable than in older binary systems, he can assert that subjectivity occurs in the interstices of cultural difference. This phenomenon is called “hybridity” and seems to have a theoretical and practical resilience in much postcolonial theory. This is to be seen in the manner that hybridity is a strategy for ordinary people to negotiate the boundaries that they are scripted

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into by political, social, economic (and ecclesiastical) power. These everyday people, both men and women, are not special practitioners of any esoteric knowledge or ability and do not practice inculturation or contextualization in the manner that academic theology understands it. Rather, hybridity is the attempt of such folks to preserve the integrity of their respective traditions by referring to a different principle aimed at survival. These strategies may seem to be “failures” by the gatekeepers of identity. The drive to secure agency for the subaltern means, in this view, a securing of agency for very ordinary folk who may be seen to be spectacular “failures” in much theoretical and political discourse. “Failure”14 is present in the struggle to survive. Bhabha ponders on moments of dislocation, migration, movement, and forced displacement. Bhabha calls this “beginning in the middle”:
Isn’t the beginning in the middle—having to accept responsibility for anteriority while oddly anticipating the emergence of futures past as a practice of present time . . . I started working with one predicament of Mr. Biswas in V.S. Naipaul’s A house for Mr. Biswas. In Biswas’ failure, there was a profound and strong sense of survival, in his repeated humiliations a real sense of agency, in his homelessness a real possibility of accommodation, in his servility a real intimation of sovereignty. But survival here means living in the ambivalent movement in between both these seemingly contradictory or incommensurate moments. Biswas is always in the middle; he is able to grasp the iterative, and, without laying a foundation, he is able to establish a narrative and ethical presence. (Bhabha, 2000, 378–379)

For postcolonial theology that has as its aim decolonization, there has to be a certain comfort with “failure” for it would show up the structures that host “tradition” and “theology” to be protective of their access to power. However, the third-world academic in the United States cannot help but inhabit these structures. Spivak, for example, articulates the notion that a desperate hope for justice under capitalism is what drives immigrants to the metropole. The work to be done includes unmasking the elite, supremacist logics that want the successes of capitalism only for themselves as simply one more example of how power infuses relations in the system. The moment that is upon the postcolonial thinker is to weave postcolonial and anticolonial insights together for a project of decolonization. The simple “application” of postcolonial theory to this or that framework does not guarantee the goal of decolonization. As we saw in the survey above, the concerns of the three postcolonial theorists


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that we are reading are as follows: complicity and ambivalence, the dissolution of polarized forms of thinking, and inclusion in liberationoriented politics. The emphasis that these thinkers place on the project of decolonization is matched only by the enormity of the task at hand. On the one hand, anticolonization and antiglobalization praxis in the academy and elsewhere today depend on presenting a clear picture of the horrific dehumanization and systemic oppressions that occur in the name of “free market trade.” Here it is very easy to provide a portrait of the third-world migrant or subject as a victim. Not wanting to paint this picture of victimology, the thinkers must avoid the other extreme of blaming the victim (for indeed s/he is a victim) for all the ills heaped on their head. Further, they have to navigate the fascist politics of a feardriven first world as well as the ineffective liberal posturing at internal critique that does absolutely nothing to change the structures of oppression. In my reading, the attempt by postcolonial thinkers to eliminate disjunctive thinking by exposing forms of control of agency, knowledge, and participation perpetuated by polarized forms of thought is visionary and prophetic. It is a call that theologians must heed. The twentieth century as has been noted often, opened with an obsessive emphasis on race as a primary attribute of being human. Perpetuated by eugenicist orthodoxy, race was unavoidable as the primary attribute of human. For most of the century then, we witnessed the terrible consequences of race-based hatred perpetuated by fascist regimes. The hatred did not disappear at the end of the century. As Homi Bhabha pleaded, the end of the century ought to have allowed us the opportunity to retrospectively rethink the causes of the legacy of hatred that marked the twentieth century. Instead, religious identity has ferociously rejoined race and ethnicity categories as markers of (fearful) difference. In such a time, the methodology provided by postcolonial theory to decolonize by dissolving polarizations of identity, ethics, and religious commitment in the political context is most critical. Spivak calls this the method of disarticulation, which is the method of nondisjunctive thinking. It identifies syncretisms or collusions and seeks to dissolve binary forms of thought. Disarticulation can bring about decolonization, which is the goal of postcolonial theory. Modes of thinking that do not adequately engage political perspectives are disarticulated from their false sense of coherence and unity. Additionally, however, it is also important to self-reflexively examine the liberation philosophies in order to identify collusions and evasions. Hence, postcolonial theory itself must be disarticulated.

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Disarticulating Theology and Theory: Faith and Power in the Postcolonial Context
Postcolonial theology provides two moments for the theological task of presenting the manner in which faith and power relate in the postcolonial context. On the one hand, it must be an interdisciplinary process. Here I take Robert Schreiter’s suggestion to liberation theology seriously (Schreiter, 1997, 114). He argues that liberation theology must become more interdisciplinary in situations of reconstruction. Deconstruction must be followed by concrete proposals for reconstruction and such reconstruction will need the help of social sciences and other disciplines that articulate varied proposals on how we can address the inequalities we encounter in the world. Consequently, I assert that postcolonial theology has as its aim the reconstruction of social relations utilizing religious, theological language and perspectives. Hence, the interdisciplinary method will provide for a concrete interrelating of ideas and methods that will help us “sort through the vexing issues that make up reality.” I believe that the interdisciplinary method will sharpen the prophetic denunciation of overweening power not through the comparative mode (the happy blending of postcolonial theory and progressive theology) but through the method of disarticulation. Disarticulation will achieve the decolonization of the mind and the spirit that is the practical necessity for doing theology today. For example, in this chapter the discussion of method has been couched in light of Rahner’s theology of freedom and the project of decolonizing the mind and spirit through postcolonial theory. Thus, Rahner’s theology of freedom, the attempt to offer correctives in the context of more political concerns by Metz and the presentation of the postcolonial context in which the nexus between culture, power, and faith present significant directions for what is being called postcolonial theology begin to take shape. In charting the complex contours of discussion, postcolonial theology will provide the method of disarticulation whereby identity, ethics, and nonviolent polity are reconstructed at the edge of porous boundaries. Elements of such a new way of doing theology would acknowledge the heterogeneity of issues that impact the postcolonial context identity, ethics, and civic polity. Consequently, the identification between Western secular power and postcolonial theory is disarticulated to expose the reliance of these theorists on nonreligious ideologies and frameworks such as


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poststructuralism, Marxism, and psychoanalysis. Homi Bhabha and Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, in particular, either fail to note or hesitate to theorize the manner in which religious subjectivity and communal affiliation have provided for unique strategies in postcolonial societies to counter colonialism in both its Christian and Western forms of triumphalism. Ashis Nandy, perhaps because he is more committed to the multireligious and multicultural context of India is much more willing to engage “faith” and “spirituality.” Nonetheless, he too, like Bhabha and Spivak, refuses to think more concretely about his neo-Gandhian perspective’s reliance on Gandhi’s spiritual practices and theological claims. Hence, in chapter 2, I take issue with the manner in which Bhabha presents conversion and cultural identity in the colonial context. Drawing on historical sources, Bhabha wishes to claim that resistance to European cultural and political imperialism was rooted in “sly civility” of the Hindus who refused to give in to the dictates of imperial power. The Hindus refused to convert but also kept the Bible for themselves and were fully aware of the religious import of the book in their possession. Bhabha is unable to provide a religious or theological rationale for this behavior. His political evaluation, moreover, fails to examine the religious roots of their anticolonial action. When we look to modern theology however, the opposite problem presents itself. A primary characteristic of Rahner’s theology of freedom is the transcendental-metaphysical aspect. Freedom in this vein is primarily a philosophical construct. However, as was asserted before, Rahner takes great pains to delineate the historical dimension of transcendental subjectivity. His theological anthropology, for example, rests on the claim that every human being experiences the transcendental movement to God due to the Supernatural existential in history. The notion of the Supernatural existential, moreover, is related to concrete human history. However, even as Rahner pays attention to the manner in which freedom is present in human history, he falls short of the requirement of postcolonial theory to account for the manner in which conceptualizing sameness and difference has contributed greatly to the curtailment of freedom. As has been said before, mere historicizing cannot account for the failures of history, which is of central concern to postcolonial theory. Such failures in the postcolonial context are to be observed in the manner that difference is constructed. Here of course, those discourses, which show how power creates and sustains difference, can speak to theology. Bhabha’s theory of hybridity of identity, for example, demonstrates that violent colonial logic is thwarted by the Hindus presenting a

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delicate balancing of the problem of sameness and difference through syncretizing strategies. They utilize sophisticated forms of intercultural hermeneutics (Schreiter, 1997, 42–43) to do so. Since Bhabha fails to identify the religious roots of this balance, postcolonial theology, will disarticulate identity as hybrid, interculturally and interreligiously. Intercultural and interreligious hermeneutics acts at the boundary where meaning is negotiated. Here neither difference nor sameness is denied; in balancing these issues a cross-cultural perspective for theological anthropology that is more inclusive than the traditional models can be created. Utilizing this very mode, I suggest in chapter 1 that by conceptualizing agency as hybridity and freedom as transcendental-existential, both Rahner and Bhabha provide pieces of the puzzle. Hence, if I can show that religious identity is modified and transformed by cultural identity and vice versa, what we have is a postcolonial theological proposal to understand identity. Identity constructions in postcolonial contexts are therefore disarticulated from the instrumental grip of theory and theology as we have it and are presented instead as practical and theological activity at the boundary.15 In chapter 3, Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak’s account of embodied ethics provides for a different moment in postcolonial theology. A decidedly feminist agenda that seeks to address the exclusions of gendered subalterns in feminist academic theory, she is resolutely critical of how difference is purveyed in the West. Simply because the stated requirement of participatory democracy is multiple representations, it does not follow that the ethical inclusion of the muted other/s actually takes place. Feminist concerns and issues that are connected to the category of “culture” include how the “other” is made use of by centers of power even as they claim to have her best interests at heart. Spivak vigorously argues, therefore, that ethics in the context of postcolonial relations requires the interruptive embodied, and nonviolent gesture of the least included. The caress of the gendered subaltern therefore engenders “love” that bridges the separations that mark relations between people. Love is therefore the only option for those who are aware of the sanctioned exclusions of power. However, Spivak hesitates to draw out the specifically Christian undertones of her proposal. Moreover, she anticipates her proposal performing a significant role in theological thought and dismisses any future attempt to do so. Any theology that emphasizes “individual transcendence” for ethical action in the present world in light of the next world is incapable of the kind of changes required for decolonization (Spivak, 1999, 382). Theologians in the postcolonial context are flummoxed by such claims. To be fair, what Spivak is alluding to here is the impossibility of


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imagining a just ecology where Nature has no way to participate in the ethical relation within an anthropocentric framework. Nevertheless, the broader implication of what Spivak is arguing, in light of her hesitancy to “go into the garden of the Incarnation” issues a challenge to the postcolonial feminist theologian to identify a modality in which theology can play a central role in ethical relation. Rahner also speaks of ethics as an option. In fact, it is the “Fundamental Option.” The existential-ethical aspect of freedom, which Rahner develops as ethical response of love of neighbor as the “Doing” of the imperative of the Word, is closely linked to postcolonial concerns with loving and embodied action. While Rahner does concede the historical necessity of presenting “love,” he formulates it as the “Fundamental Option” which is defined as the “Love of God and Love of neighbor.” This idea is inadequate in the postcolonial context because it represents a kind of “anthropological essentialism” as will become evident in my presentation of the domestic reception to that idea. Postcolonial theorists such as Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak insist that anthropological essentialist understandings of “love” only further a European, benevolent idea of ethics and do not pay adequate attention to the attempts made by the most voiceless and powerless to deploy their identity as gendered subjects of social transformation that occurs in cultural modes of political engagement. History, understood from this perspective, is a radically discontinuous, interruptive, and surprising “doing” from specific standpoints of identity to emphasize the strategic usefulness of identity standpoints. The strategic use of essentialism therefore, counters Rahner’s more amorphous anthropological essentialism and makes “love” more an embodied response of existential-ethical action. Such “love” is then harnessed for transformation of the postcolonial social context marked by exclusivist positioning and its resulting violence. In assiduously seeking the inclusion and ethical treatment of women within violent systems, Spivak’s agenda presents an absolute challenge to official Roman Catholic theology. Consequently, postcolonial theology, specifically on the question of women will remain in prophetic relation to official or ecclesiastical Catholic theology. Finally in chapter 4, I look at Ashis Nandy’s presentation of Gandhi’s Ahimsa. Ashis Nandy is fully committed to engaging at the boundary of identity and ethics in the manner of Gandhi. In my reading, he provides the original moment of theorizing hybridity of identity and the strategic deployment of gender categories in anticolonial literature. Identity for Nandy is always permeable due to ethical considerations. Realizing one’s ethical responsibilities in fact

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allows for hybrid identities to emerge. Unlike Bhabha and Spivak’s proposals, Nandy proposes a rather original hybrid to consider. His hybrid bridges the separation of the religious and secular and clearly demonstrates agency through which structures of unequal power are transformed. Nandy’s presentation of Gandhian Ahimsa shows therefore how a practice of spirituality16 can affect power. Faith in Nandy’s work is the faith of ordinary people who struggle mightily to transform their lives without dehumanizing themselves or their oppressors. However, it is not clear in Nandy’s work how “power” as a historical category can affect one’s practice of spirituality. In other words, he does not provide any way for a postcolonial theologian to suggest a spiritual practice in service of one’s spirituality. Nandy makes a conscious effort to distance himself from Gandhi in this regard and leaves postcolonial theology wondering if only Hindus with the kind of openness that Gandhi had can perform an efficacious spirituality to mobilize political action. Once again, if we look to Rahner to provide a corrective, we encounter the opposite problem. Rahner’s presentation of Indiferençia, as was asserted earlier, discounts the possibility of the use of mystical practice in political contexts or, in the context of power. Here, where one would expect the clearest demonstration of how faith and power are linked, Rahner shows his ecclesiastical hand, which trumps any constructive proposal for mysticism in the case of violence. Nandy’s proposal is the clearest challenge to Rahner’s theology of freedom, as I shall demonstrate. Hence, the mystical aspect of Rahner’s theology of freedom is developed in light of nonviolent response to imperial power. Since the goal of hearing and doing the word is to be in union with the divine, the historical manifestation of such a process of selfpurification and complete surrender to the power of the Word is embodied in the nonviolent response to colonial violence. Here I suggest the Gandhian notion of Ahimsa as the stance of the being that hears and does in response to the Word. Ahimsa, or the nonviolent exercise of power, has an undeniably mystical dimension to it in that it mandates a sense of connection with all of creation, especially human others who may have unequally greater power, based on one’s disciplined cultivation of union with the divine other. Such a move is absolutely necessary in postcolonial contexts where subjectivity and ethics based on alterity may not condone any form of structural or institutionalized violence. Whereas Rahner sought to modify the modern European notion of subjectivity through theological and religious elements, introducing the idea of Indiferençia as the stance of the hearer and doer of the Word, the consequences for the exercise


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of power are not as clearly worked out. Spirituality here is not as connected to existential ethics as one may imagine it to be in Rahner. A more concrete form of spirituality and ethics in the form of Ahimsa is suggested as a way to deepen Rahner’s mystical subjectivity and freedom in the postcolonial context. In the background of the discussion between Rahner and postcolonial theorists in this book are Cardinal Ratzinger, future Pope Benedict XVI’s writings on identity, love, and spirituality. The inclusion of this perspective in the book demonstrates the complex of registers on which postcolonial theology must operate. Here, the competing interests, truth claims, and lived realities of different groups of people attempting to live without dissolving all of their contradictions and conflicts can only be a positive but disarticulating resource for Catholic theology’s global identity. It is an (im)possible space for doing theology. R.S. Sugirtharajah suggests:
It seems [to us] that God values variety and variance, and God seems to want a world where we have to work out with others the truth. The colonialist mode of interpretation offered a simple choice between truth and falsehood. If one is right, the other is invariably wrong. What postcolonialism does is to force us to choose between truth and truth. The validation of one does not depend on the negation of the other. What postcoloniality makes us realize is that the divine has made an impact on people in diverse ways, thus occasioning a variety of legitimate responses to that experience. It is here that one must strive for answers which have no precedents in the text or tradition. It is here one has to be daringly original and true to one’s experiences and visions. (2003, 124)

Chapter 2

Negotiating C ultural and Religious I dentity in the Postcolony

There is a kind of narrative or image of power . . . that somehow assumes that power works because somewhere prior to a particular exercise of authority it has been fixed. It works because it has already been institutionalized; it has been prefixed in a way. And I think to some extent, of course, this is true. You enter into a negotiation only because there is a disequilibrium or an inequality. But I think how you negotiate depends very much on how you read the weight and sedimentation of that prior fixing or prefixing . . . it’s to try and rethink the context of that prefixing, to suggest that this prefixing may also be disarticulated or unfixed . . . —Homi Bhabha, 1999, 23–24.


is critical to conceptualize “identity” theologically in the contemporary political context provided by postcolonial theory. Identity, religious or political, is not fixed. It is a product of ceaseless negotiations, in the presence of unequal power. The theological stance on conceptualizing identity will affect debates on religious identity, cultural identity, and conversion in places such as India with their histories of European Christian attempts to colonize, as well as debates of a more political nature. Moreover, the more public face of theology such as a contemporary Roman Catholic theology of mission given such imperializing histories is complicated by the awareness forwarded in postcolonial theory of continued colonization and collusion with Western economic and political power. How can Roman Catholic


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postcolonial theologians rethink the connections between cultural and religious identities in India in such a context is the question that this chapter attempts to answer. Consequently, I engage Homi Bhabha and Karl Rahner in a creative dialogue on identity, conversion, and mission, and challenge their frameworks to become more accommodating of religious subjectivity and awareness of power asymmetries in each of their respective proposals. In this conversation, Rahner functions as a theological voice to critique the secularized mode in which Homi Bhabha constructs his theory of hybridity of identity. Additionally, in an era of change and instability, “fixed identity” functions as a sort of anchor for communities, both religious and political. For Roman Catholic theology, an important agenda for theological thinking in the twenty-first century is how to speak of our identity as “catholic” (Schreiter, 1997, 119–122). Globalization has inaugurated a new age of evangelization, with the aid of technology (note the Lausanne Committee for World Evangelization’s proceedings for example), which has serious implications for Catholic theology. The “identity” of the Catholic Church in the era of globalization and global evangelization is an issue that is of deep importance to the magisterium. On the one hand, secularization in many parts of the West (the United States may be a notable exception, save the perception that “secular” values are eroding “traditional” (family) values) continues to be a constantly acknowledged issue for “catholic” identity. On the other, syncretizing modes of religious identity, including “double belongings (and) hybridities” (Schreiter, 1997, 73–78) create both challenges and opportunities for legislative bodies such as the magisterium. For Bhabha, identity is not simply about claiming privileged epistemological positions as in ordinary multiculturalist agendas, which organize the debates on identity around pragmatic claims for pluralism, diversity, and difference. He argues that what effectively challenges the excesses of modernity (with specific regard to conceptualizing identity) is not “pluralism” or “multiculturalism” or “diversity” but the charting of forms of modernity that are different than the provincial European or Western ones. Consequently, identity is “beyond” the ordinary configurations of identity that modernity and postmodernity presume. Identities are not fixed; they are not homogenous and are not identifiable as easily as we might think. They are the product of ceaseless negotiations between various cultural entities marked by asymmetries of power leading to the view of postcolonial identity as involved in invention and newness. Bhabha does not attempt to define culture as such: as ceaseless negotiation, it there is no possibility that we can capture culture or museumize it as a static

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process. Power that may be perceived as “fixed” in these negotiations may not be so and disarticulating the model of power is also a goal of negotiations. In order to demonstrate his theory of identity, Bhabha surveys archival anticolonial literature chronicling political and religious identity creation. In these historical annals, negotiations around religious conversion become a site of resistance for Bhabha. Bhabha is not the only one to latch on to these refusals as sites of conversion: anticolonial nationalistic literature assumes that the refusal to convert has particular political potential for the rhetoric of nationalist identity. Resistance to conversion therefore will function as one of the modalities of religious identity in the postcolonial theological context. Schreiter explains this move in light of violent and unequal cultural encounters (Schreiter, 1997, 73), arguing that there is legitimacy in such negotiated activities as “double belonging” and reinterpretation of older forms of religious identity. Such paradoxical and dynamic processes, such as those charted in Bhabha, with regard to identity formation become significant for a postcolonial theology of conversion. A theology of conversion in the postcolonial context need not necessarily mean a change in religious identity. It will certainly mean negotiating identity, often in novel and surprising ways, in the context of plurality. Bhabha’s theory of hybridity of identity presents identity in an “interstitial” space between two boundaries. In the context of colonial violence, the survival strategy of the colonized included the creation of the interstitial third space between the colonizing and colonized culture. Hence, resistance to conversion as well as measured capitulation to conversion occurred at the boundary in anticolonial literature. I am interested here not in the novel forms of identity such as hybridities or double belongings but to interrogate Bhabha’s move to locate agency in a cultural rather than religious identity. I will argue that agency in this particular case of retrieval by Bhabha of the colonial encounter, is to be located in religious commitments. In the context of competing truth claims, very often adjustments are made to the selfperception of one’s identity that allows for coping strategies. There is no loss of self and self-identity in such a proposal. In fact, there is a deepening of religious and theological commitments that allows for particular religious and spiritual practices that enhance the ability to negotiate identity. As such, the greatest challenge to be issued in this chapter is to Bhabha’s theory of hybridity. As a cultural critic who examines colonial history and literature for moments of newness and invention, Bhabha strives to distance himself


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from the religious and theological in every possible way. Nevertheless, he charts inventive, hybrid postcolonial strategies in relation to the religious, a move that has remained largely unexplored by commentators on Bhabha. It would therefore seem that in many academic contexts, which highlight postcolonial theory, it is not possible at all to speak of “Christian conversion” or, a change in one’s religious identity. After all, the assumption goes that Christian conversion automatically implies religious and cultural imperialism. Conversely, it is resistance to religious conversion that is charted as indicating the way forward to map a politics for cultural identity based on negotiation by both Bhabha and his commentators. In my estimation, Bhabha offers postcolonial theological thinking with a double-edged sword. From one point of view, he clearly does not want the notion of hybridity to be assimilated to the “politics of recognition.” In so doing, he outlines the commitment to political justice in resolutely focusing on the process of negotiation in which identities are ceaselessly interacting. The subject who is negotiating is a very different subject from one who is recognizing or being recognized (Bhabha, 1999, 19). From another point of view, the enunciatory subject who negotiates cultural colonial discipline with its racist overtones seems to possess a strangely bounded religious identity. Bhabha roots his claims of cultural agency in the manner that Indian Hindus politely refuse to convert in the face of Christian exhortations to do so even as they draw on the Christian symbol system to counter other more domestic forms of tyranny. However, he does not dwell on the Hindu religious commitment that allows Hindus to perform an instance of “double belonging.” His theory of hybridity is seductive precisely because secular academic postcolonial theory constantly marginalizes religious agency or, as I shall show, misrepresents religious agency by arguing that it is always in competition and conflict with culture. Bhabha’s assertions that these Hindus were simply performing a cultural pas de deux to resist conversion overlook the dimension of the religious and theological sources for hybrid negotiations that the natives perform. The fault may not lie entirely with Bhabha. It is true that even a cursory examination of the colonial archive demonstrates that “conversion” in ecclesiastical documents of the era followed closely on the heels of the imperial aspirations of European nations. Speaking about religious conversion in the postcolonial context consequently, is fraught with difficulty because of the historical memory of mission and colonialism. In fact, mission’s alliance with colonialism has been charged with the inability of the Roman Church to become truly a world Church even as it has a global identity and is more conscious

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than ever of the intricate cultural, social, and political problems that face the Church in the area of conversion and mission. As Richard McBrien (McBrien, 1994, 642) asserts, the colonial era offered a chance for the Roman Church to make a transition from a culturally confined Church to a genuine world Church because colonialism compromised the missionary efforts on the political side and controversies over methods on the ecclesiastical side. If we examine current papal and official documents on the idea of conversion, it will seem that the Roman Catholic Church is still operating with a profound distrust over methods of conversion in places with large “non-Christian” populations such as India. The challenge of religious and cultural relativism and the negation of absolute truth claims in academic arenas harden the Church’s stance on what conversion might mean today. For example, in Redemptoris Missio, Pope John Paul II emphasizes that “conversion means accepting, by a personal decision, the saving sovereignty of Christ and becoming his disciple” (#46). Further, the criticism of conversion as proselytizing goes against the rights of people who have the right to hear the Good News. He denies that conversion sufficiently means the creation of just and free communities of peace and solidarity as has become the manner of some missionaries and theologians working in many non-Christian contexts. Hence, for the late Pope, peace and justice issues had to be uncoupled from the task of evangelization. Conversion, therefore, necessitates baptism since “it is not only the practice of the Church but also the will of Christ himself ” (#47). Conversion means both accepting the saving sovereignty of Christ in the life of the disciple and also becoming clearly identified with the Church. Conversion therefore has to do with preserving the integrity of the message and it is the Church’s duty and mission to do so. Consequently, religious identity on this view requires a public affiliation with the institutional Church whose center is in Rome. While this requirement is a coherent call within a theology of Roman Catholic mission, it is not hard to see how academic secular theorists who may or may not have personal religious commitments (though Bhabha is candid about his Parsee upbringing) and religious nationalists in India can misread these statements. The present Pope, Benedict XVI, is also concerned with preserving the integrity of the message. However, his theological argument, presented in a different genre than the encyclical, more subtly tackles the problems that the ideas of conversion and mission encounter in cultures other than those identified with hegemonic Christianity. In the book Truth and Tolerance: Christian Belief and World Religions written prior


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to his election to the papacy, Benedict XVI, then Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, analyzes how faith, religion, and culture intersect in our contemporary time. His goal in this book is to critique the Christian pluralistic theology of religions. As far as he is concerned, we can and indeed must speak of conversion and mission in those parts of the world that are “largely non-Christian.” In addressing the systematic critiques advanced against the Roman Catholic Church’s exclusivist missionary theology, Ratzinger explicitly mentions that the sort of talk acceptable today of conversion as an inner dispositional change is an “ideology of equality” (Ratzinger, 2004, 105)1 that must be vigorously resisted by any Christian. Conversion to Christ requires obedience to Christ and is manifested in the conversion also to the Christian community and Church. His concern is to avoid the taint of relativism by asserting that any theology of religions that understands all religions to be “equal” in any way is simply advancing an “ideology of equality.” The Cardinal’s concern here also addresses the issue of proper belonging. In secularized parts of Europe, where actual church attendance has dropped, a corresponding drop in numbers who claim to be Christian has not been noted. Philosophical Christians, unbaptized Christians, and unchurched Christians are all being addressed here.2 “Culture” plays a crucial role in Ratzinger’s proposals, which are embedded in a pointed analysis of the relationship between faith, religion, and culture. Religions and cultures possess an “inner openness” to each other (2004, 59) and religion is an “essential element of culture.” Culture is defined as “the social form of expression, as it has grown up in history, of those experiences and evaluations that have left their mark on a community and have shaped it.” (60). Inculturation therefore is proof of the inner openness of cultures to each other. “Culture” possesses reciprocity with regard to religion. Of critical interest here for theology in the postcolonial context is the similarity and the difference between Ratzinger and Bhabha’s definition of culture—they are similar in that culture for both is not a bounded and impermeable category and different in that Ratzinger depends on an integrating model of culture that emphasizes continuity and connection (thus continuity and connection with other cultures, for example) whereas in Bhabha, a more globalized, interruptive and interventionist model of culture emphasizes agonism and discontinuity.3 The dissimilarity polarizes their view of culture. What is rather interesting is that both seem to be presenting a view of religion as much less permeable than culture (Ratzinger emphasizes the reciprocity or openness of culture to religion and it is not clear that such reciprocity is evident in religion, and Bhabha seems to be closed

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to the suggestion that religious identities may have similar porosity as culture) and seem oblivious to the notion that religious commitments may be responsible for cultural porosity. The reality of globalization, the memory of colonization, and the absolutism characteristic of Roman Catholic dicta on conversion and mission, on the one hand, and the elision of any religious dimension in academic postcolonial theory, on the other, present significant challenges for Indian postcolonial theology. First, since postcolonial theory advances counterclaims against Western frameworks of subjectivity and ethical action by foregrounding cultural and ethnic identity, the issue of conversion of identity becomes the flashpoint for contending claims in the postcolonial context. Christian theological thinkers who are aware of the postcolonial framework in cultural and critical theory nevertheless must take into consideration the important critiques made of European expansionist schemes. In fact, if it is true that the colonial experience fomented the anthropological poverty of subjectivity, ethics, and practice that many Indian theologians rue, then attempting to bring the concerns of postcolonial theorists to suggest the contours of a postcolonial theological proposal of identity, conversion, and mission may be the only way forward. Second, Indian postcolonial theology is going to have to assert its own theological integrity in the face of both criticisms of universalization as well as relativization. The goal here is not an exercise in postcolonial revenge of the sort that has become predictable in vulgar identity politics. The goal rather is to show that a vigorous theory of culture, politics, faith, and religion already exists in India in a manner that may be a resource for both secularized postcolonial theories as well as for absolutist Roman Catholic official theology. In service of this goal, what I will suggest is that negotiations at the boundary marked by inclusive strategies are key to conceptualizing postcolonial identity. Here, Bhabha’s cultural scheme lacks the complexity of identity in India, which draws on religious subjectivity to avoid being co-opted by authoritarian power. What is proposed instead is a hybrid mode of cultural and religious identity. On the other hand, religious strategies at the boundary that mark identity through inclusive strategies are deemed as providing a necessary corrective to Bhabha. Hence, we will employ the “catachrestic” method of reading Bhabha, which is the mode in which he prefers to be read. In postcolonial theory, the word “catachrestic” signals the deconstructive move to read between the lines. It is also the mode of thinking and writing that is utilized by theories that seek to disarticulate knowledge


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and power, in the service of decolonizing the mind. Bhabha himself appeals to the oneiric and intuitive as the mode to read:
If you seek simply the sententious or the exegetical, you will not grasp the hybrid moment outside the sentence—not quite experience, not yet concept; part dream, part analysis; neither signifier nor signified . . . What is caught anecdotally “outside the sentence” . . . is that problematic space—performative, rather than experiential, non-sententious but no less theoretical . . . (outside the sentence) is not to be opposed to the inner voice; the non-sentence does not relate to the sentence as polarity . . . it is the question of agency, as it emerges in relation to the indeterminate and the contingent, that I want to explore “outside the sentence.” (Bhabha, 1994, 81–82)

In the space “outside” the sentence, which is outside propositions that claim absolute truth, Bhabha wants to make room for alterity. Cultural difference in his scheme, hence, is valuable in and for itself. Cultural difference functions as a prime example of excess and remainder that challenges the epistemological poverty of Western philosophical and cultural systems unable to construct identity and difference apart from its own self-interest. Conversion in this context can be understood as an interpretive event that has social, political, and cultural ramifications and may mean conversion to the other (instead of conversion understood narrowly as religious or political affiliation) for the sake of the other with important consequences for self-identity. It may also mean, (disarticulating conversion from Bhabha’s secular politics), a conversion that is rooted in religious practice. Here we can begin to see the faint outlines of a theology of conversion in the postcolonial moment that disarticulates “conversion” from any imperializing agenda. Schreiter sketches in broad strokes what conversion in the era of globalization might mean (1997, 71). Conversion is the call to metanoia for both the culture that is being preached to as well as to the religion that is preaching. Neither is “pure” and both necessarily must possess receptivity and reciprocity. Thus, a space for the radical alterity of identity and identity claims may turn on an inner change of heart and mind: conversion. Hence, my argument asks the following question: could it be that a religious and theological imagination may allow for a space for alterity that allows for a negotiation of identity in the manner that Bhabha presents? In contemporary Catholic theology for example, I present Karl Rahner’s formulation of the “anonymous Christian” as precisely such a negotiation of identity that may add to Bhabha’s analysis of cultural agency. This space for the other, made on

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inner Christian terms allows for the kind of space for alterity that we can see operating analogically in the Hindus as they make accommodations in the colonial encounter.

Cultural and Religious Identity at the Boundary
Homi Bhabha’s postcolonial theory attempts to locate negotiated cultural identity as the center of agential action. Asymmetries of power are emphasized in this analysis. Here, strategies that expose the center’s demand for pure and untainted identity are grouped under the rubric “hybridity.” Bhabha argues that the historical data demonstrates that colonial logics that sought religious conversion were overtly racist. The trope of racism that Bhabha investigates is germane to the development of the notion of hybridity. Robert J.C. Young (1995) argues that the word “hybridity” has a genealogy from nineteenth-century Victorian racialism. Hybridity there referred to “racial intermixture” and all the ensuing anxiety and worry about intermixed races flowed from the word. Bhabha is aware of the provenance of the racist undertones of hybridity but wishes to use it for cultural criticism. Young disagrees with this move since “culture” has never been unsullied of the taint of racism. In my reading, it seems to me that Bhabha is quite aware that cultural logics are racist but employs a view of hybridity that attempts to overturn the racism of these logics. Since hybridity is an enunciatory site where the other and denied knowledges break into dominant discourse and confound the basis of its authority, such a move bewilders colonial authority and its heretofore firm grip on univocal meaning. One method of achieving such enunciation was to utilize the “spectacular forms of resistance” (Bhabha, 1994, 121) through mimicry. Hybridity in this sense refers to the attempts to counter racism. It arises out of a deep suspicion of essentialized race categories and seems skewed toward the more plastic category of “ethnicity.” However, at the core, postcolonial theory deeply engages with race logics in the manner that race is represented. The specularity of race is theorized by many postcolonial theorists (Mohanty, 1991; Gilroy, 2000; López, 2005). As Mohanty points out (1991, 315), whiteness performed a spectacular aggrandization of power in the postcolonial context. The white man had to be seen as powerful so that he could command the native’s respect. Alfred López, building on this idea, maintains that postcolonial theory is able to perform a “privilege-ectomy” of whiteness by revealing its fictive origins. Gilroy (and we shall hear


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more from him presently) argues that all racial logics is a construction of specularity that must be countered with even more spectacular examples of inclusive spectacles. Bhabha is clear that hybridity includes the moment of critical specularity through mimicry but maintains above all that it is a site of enunciation. The clearest definition of his notion of hybridity comes from an interview:
. . . I think that there is a misunderstanding about my notion of hybridization. For me, hybridization is really about how you negotiate between texts or cultures or practices in a situation of power imbalances in order to be able to see the way in which strategies of appropriation, revision and iteration can produce possibilities for those who are less advantaged to be able to grasp in a moment of emergency, in the very process of the exchange or the negotiation, the advantage. Hybridization is much more a social and cultural and ennunciative process in my work. It is not about people who eat Chinese food, wear Italian clothes and so on; but sometimes, in a very complimentary way to me personally, it’s been taken to mean some kind of diversity or multiple identities. For me, hybridization is a discursive, enunciatory, cultural, subjective process having to do with the struggle around authority, authorization, deauthorization, and the revision of authority. It is a social process. It is not about diverse cultural tastes and fashions. (Bhabha, 1999, 39)

The theory of hybridity of identity as Bhabha understands it was worked out in one of Bhabha’s most famous essays “Signs Taken for Wonders” (Bhabha, 1994, 102–122) in which he describes how hybridity as a form of agency emerged in the context of Christian mission in India. The story is that of an Indian evangelist called Anund Messeh who finds a group of over 500 people reading the Bible in Hindi. On asking where they acquired the bibles, he is told that an angel had given them the book. The people assert that they read and love the book since it came to them as a gift directly from God. Messeh tells them then that the angel was just a missionary and the reason why the book was given to them was because it contained the religion of the European Sahibs. The people demur, saying that it could not be the book of the Sahibs since the Sahibs are flesh eaters and surely God’s word would not be among those people with such disgusting cultural habits. They proclaim that the arrival of the book is a miracle. And that is as far as they are willing to go. When Messeh argues that in order to become the true people of God they must be baptized in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, and not just read the book, the people excuse themselves politely remembering that they have to be home at the harvest just then (102–104).

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Bhabha’s analysis of this event from the colonial archive asserts that the adoption of the book without the radical change of identity presumed by Christian missionaries in the event of conversion is an example of interruptive and interventionist enunciation: the agency of the colonial subject who possesses the ability to relativize universal claim of authority by pointing out inner contradictions and ambivalences on the cultural plane. Bhabha is gleeful of the fact that none of these people convert to ritualized Christianity: it proves his point that agency is located not in the subjective realm of conversion but in the articulation of cultural relativization. The interventionist and interruptive enunciation holds up a mirror that questions the colonial insistence to capitulate to raw power by interrogating the ethical underpinning of universalized identity. The people refuse conversion because it does not match up with their world-view and their values. For Bhabha this event is ample proof that the missionary enterprise in colonial India failed in the final analysis. Cultural identity is preserved in the face of the assertion that the integrity of the message is compromised if conversion did not occur. Yet, the people take home the holy book and love it by belonging to an interstitial “third space” which is neither the one nor the other originary identity. Homi Bhabha therefore wants to inaugurate the age of the nonreligious in cultural encounters. In order to do so, Bhabha wants to speak of identity and not the more problematic and older idea of subjectivity that was for him enmeshed in the originary myth and articulated telos of Western and Christian philosophy. In other words, there is the suspicion of the “transcendental subject” of modernity and its rootedness in the older religious trajectory. He is focused instead on the moments or processes that attend the articulation of cultural difference. In so doing, the category of culture belongs properly to a realm of the “beyond”—beyond that is of boundaries of identification and positioning (Bhabha, 1994, 1). In reading historical missionary accounts in colonial India, Bhabha notes that colonial desire and authority rests on the appropriation of the Bible. Translations of the Bible were eagerly sought and appropriated by the natives who loved and read the Bible and were convinced that God gave it as a gift to them directly. They were happy to possess the word of God but refuse politely to be baptized into the Church. In this historical exchange, Bhabha advances his theory of hybridity. Hybridity challenges the rules of recognition instigated by colonial authority enjoining mimetic and narcissistic demands on the natives to convert to Christianity. The natives love and read the Bible; they desire it even as they disavow colonial authority and its demand to erase difference. The translated


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Bible proves to be an impossible event for colonial authority whose claims to universality and completeness is utterly challenged in the usurpation of their holy book. It is clear that inventing identity in the context of power relations to frustrate the grip of power is what Bhabha is aiming for. As I mentioned earlier, Young and others have incisively criticized the cultural meaning of hybridity as a foil for racist logics. North American multiculturalists, for example, heralded hybridity as a novel way to conceptualize identity. Ironically, Bhabha’s idea of hybridity, which is reinterpreted by the multiculturalists as a site of agency in the era of globalization, can be shown to ignore those very historical factors that contribute to the misery of thousands of migrants and displaced peoples who today find no rewarding hybridity of culture or identity or agency for themselves. The critics of cultural hybridity argue that in the context of migration for economic independence, hybridity may simply be a coping mechanism that acquiesces to the requirement for assimilation. Every strategy of hybridization, therefore, may not be as politically useful as Bhabha suggests. Pñina Werbner (1997, 26) for example asks what happens to the transgressive qualities of hybridity when it becomes normalized and routine. Or, she continues, how are we supposed to choose between the sheer efflorescence of identities that have come to be in the newly globalized context? Bhabha will counter this charge by arguing that he was not speaking of a “sheer efflorescence” of identity but a site of enunciation. In other words, with regard to cultural hybridity, theorists are very critical of the manner in which hybridity of identity can tend to sound triumphalist and self-sufficient. Other theorists, such as Rey Chow, for example (Chow, 2003, 330), following Spivak’s lead, undermine Bhabha’s idea of hybridity by asking whether all that postcolonial theory needs to do is to investigate the “rich and ambivalent language of the imperialists”, “(for) . . . the subaltern voice has already spoken there.” Pointing out that this is a ridiculous argument; Chow argues that there is a fundamental “untranslatability” from subaltern discourse to imperialist discourse. She argues that listening for the subaltern’s silenced voice means sometimes accepting that she had never indeed spoken, for speech and speaking itself belong to already defined structures of histories of domination. Only in the acknowledgment of the fact that some subaltern voices have never spoken, can a different and more powerful subjectivity be thought out for the “native” (Chow’s preferred term for those oppressed/colonized/subjugated). These theorists are pointing to the uselessness of retrieving the idea of hybridity for a liberal and inclusive agenda. Their concerns arise from

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the limitations of multiculturalism and the politics of recognition (also called identity politics) in North American academic contexts. Marxist postcolonial theorists are also critical of the hyperbolic claims of the discourse of hybridity and point out that celebrations of hybridity generally refer to the destabilizing of the colonized culture. Aijaz Ahmad for example (Ahmad, 1995, 1–20) searingly criticizes the use and currency of ideas such as “hybridity,” “ambivalence,” and “contingency” in the current globalized postmodern electronic culture that is imbued with the “fetishism of commodities.” There can be no celebration of global “hybridity,” avers Ahmad, especially when the postcolonial African continent, for one example among others, is mired in a slow economic and social decay. What Ahmad is pointing to is that Bhabha’s (almost) exclusive emphasis on culture does not adequately investigate the economic structures that are giving rise to the new global forms of belonging. For some, especially those like Bhabha, who are the elite of the third world and live much like the elite of the first world, such celebrations of identity simply ignores how the structure of economic and political globalization works. In Ahmad’s view the idea of hybridity is more applicable to the migrant intellectual, who looks very like Bhabha, works in the Western metropolis, and thus possesses the authority of a subjectivity not possessed in equal measure by those living in the national cultures of the formerly colonized. Arguing contra Bhabha that “the individuation of the agent occurs in a moment of displacement” (Bhabha, 1994, 185), Ahmad asserts that agencies are more constituted in given historical locations and times and not just in times of flux. Ahmad bemoans the fact that between the extreme rhetoric of views of Enlightenment rationality as absolutely colonizing and repressive in Bhabha, and views such as the “vacuous” notion of hybridity that eternalizes and globalizes the present as mere contingency meant by Bhabha to be a corrective to the former, there is no middle ground. In other words, hybridity is simply performing an extreme reaction to colonizing Eurocentric power. Ahmad’s views reflect an earlier and deeper antagonistic relationship that Marxism has had with poststructralism. Leela Gandhi writes that some postcolonial theory, in specifically charting the alliance between power and knowledge, abdicates the equally urgent task of charting the alliance between power and economic structures (Gandhi, 1998, 25), in essence, deserving of such negative press. Further, Marxist critics are extremely critical of academic postcolonial theory on account of its Eurocentrism. Hence, these Marxist critics are pointing out that some postcolonial theorists do not critically utilize the


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Marxist critical framework, attempting instead to present the alliance between power and knowledge in colonialism (drawing lines of continuity with Foucault and Said instead). Critical studies in cultural anthropology also question Bhabha’s notion of hybridity and charge that he inadequately analyses power differentials in the manner that religious identity is constructed (Asad, 1993, 262–268; Dempsey, 2001). Attempts that aim to read Bhabha sympathetically, unlike the readings presented up to now, reinscribe the problem that Bhabha generates at the heart of his argument. Paul Gilroy in his book Against Race: Imagining Political Culture beyond the Color Line (2000) intensifies Bhabha’s proposal arguing that hybridity provides more of an aesthetic/ethical response than an anthropological or intersubjective one. His analysis is interesting because I believe that his reading really shows up the limitations of both his as well as Bhabha’s theory of hybridity, which depends on marginalizing religious resources for challenging racism. Borrowing Bhabha’s ruse that hybridity counters the essentialist forms of racially based identities, and intensifying the enunciatory site of agency, Gilroy presents a “postanthropological” notion of hybridity. In a radical call to dismantle all logics that perpetuate essentialized race categories (including the more liberation-oriented ones), he asserts that it is essentialized identities created through the mode of specularization that is the problem. For example, consumer-driven market forces now reproduce spectacles of racialized but “liberated” and “successful” images in sport and entertainment, which reflect corporate multiculturalism’s vested interests. Such marketing of chic blackness (241–278) really is an attempt to quell the anxiety around difference he argues and actually promotes camp mentalities. Black resistance that specularizes “black” also does not work because of the seductive pull of victimology. Instead, he argues, retrieving Bhabha to fight racial discord, we need to observe those hybrid forms of music and film that hybridize and creolize, creating aesthetic responses to the problem of race. Gilroy, just like Bhabha also marginalizes the religious in his constructive proposal. The problem of essentialized specularity does not escape the anthropological enclosure as easily as Gilroy would like. The ethics of sight that is at the core of his constructive proposal could have gained much from religious and theological sources that speak of refining one’s sight. Gilroy also ignores the fact that the visual and aural culture in which he invests so much of his constructive hope stands in direct continuity with religious modes of engaging with aesthetics in the West. His analysis of the specularity of racism therefore absolutely needs an acknowledgment of the manner in

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which sight and hearing are trained in theological systems with a view to living in harmony. Talal Asad conversely questions why contemporary cosmopolitan identities are suddenly the locus of agency, especially when there is no accompanying analysis of power. In his view, hybridity is not a useful concept when speaking of cultures because it introduces the problem of a “preexisting and pure culture” (Asad, 1993, 263). In contrast, for Asad, “culture” is not just something that people “actively” (1993, Introduction), produce. Culture instead is created in a matrix shot through with power and rhetoric imposing rules of inclusion and exclusion. “Culture” therefore is dependent on those narratives where strategies of inclusion and exclusion are constantly defined and redefined in the face of encounter with difference. However, as Asad asserts, these strategies are discursively defined, leading therefore to a definition of “culture” as a “political effect of discursive traditions” in which cultures do possess boundaries that are nevertheless porous. Asad warns therefore that the idea of cultural hybridity (which is one way to define difference) obscures the larger context in which the discussions are run by political power and nationalist discourse. Further, Bhabha’s examples of hybridity that are limited to the cultural and expressive are intensified by the consumerist framework in which difference is managed and marginalized. There is therefore no political or revolutionary potential in the idea. What we need therefore are discourses that speak of and to essential cultural (and religious) loyalties. Asad wants to assert that these essential positions articulate the cultural or religious “aspirations to integrity” especially in the face of homogenizing imperialistic and secular commitments such as nationalism. A theory of hybridity of identity can easily be hijacked by vested interests that seek to engage the minoritized groups on their terms while never questioning the need for the majority groups to become assimilated to the minoritized other except in easily managed forms such as food or music and art. Instead of hybridity of identity, Asad advocates an analysis of the structural inequalities of power in which hybridities are created, sustained, and managed. Here, claims to authenticity in which people who aspire to integrity must necessarily mean that the encounter between cultures requires both cultures to change and accommodate to the other and the other’s perceived differences. It might mean that the cultural critic or theorist is not content with the accommodations made by the less powerful minoritized “other”: it might mean that the theorist is asked to learn to live a whole different form of life (Asad, 1993, 180). Further, the concept of culture itself is “part of a language of total


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colonial reconstruction . . . according to the dictates of liberal reason” (Asad, 1993, 252). Thus, it is liberal, industrial reason that utilizes the concept of culture in particular ways that obscure the power dynamics through which nonwhite immigrants are asked to assimilate into these liberal societies. What Asad wants to emphasize is that the project of hybridity and assimilation in contemporary liberal societies forgets to examine the particular economic, political, and ideological conditions into which nonwhite immigrants are immersed and that the concept of culture, defined as a “common way of life,” generally operates through discursive devices of inclusion and exclusion, which indeed results in the bounded nature of cultural entities. The simple argument according to Bhabha that we always have the power to reinvent cultural identity through hybridizing strategies does not examine the ways in which power maintains and regulates institutionalized difference. Hybridity therefore fails in the end as an interventionist strategy for two reasons: first, the hybrid agent and her powers to hybridize are strictly controlled by the state or other authority, and second, it is always the burden of the “other” to perform the strategy of hybridity in the face of power. Asad’s incisive query here of Bhabha is critical: “How can South Asian immigrants in Britain defend, develop, and elaborate their collective and historical difference if neither their traditions not their selves can ever be identified as aspirations to integrity?” (Asad, 1993, 264). The question has implications for a theology of culture in that the integrity of a cultural identity can be shown to prevail in the face of regularizing and normalizing tactics of power. I would like to push Asad’s question even further: how can groups of communities (either in the colonial archive or in the globalized diaspora) demonstrate their cultural and religious integrity in the face of unequal power? The answer to this question requires a constructive move following the deconstructive and catachrestic reading of Bhabha. I shall suggest therefore that in the examination of the colonial archive, Bhabha fails to locate the integrity of the Indian culture because he marginalizes the religious and theological. The strictly secular stance that Bhabha adopts with regard to his idea of hybridity in the neocolonial context has also come under criticism from scholars of religious practice. Historically, hybridity itself in the religious context becomes a rather unpredictable phenomenon and becomes unstable for positive retrieval. Such an idea counters the ubiquitous retrievals of Bhabha’s theory in the Western liberal academy. Corinne G. Dempsey in her book Kerala Christian Sainthood: Collisions of Culture and Worldview in South India (2001)

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points to the cults of saints through which contemporary Indians carve a place for themselves within their many worlds—religious, communal, and global. These cultic practices question not simply the idea of Indian or Keralaite “identity” today, but question the very idea of religion as a concept (5). “Religion” is framed in terms of practice rather than precept, leading identities to appear more fluid and delineations more permeable. Dempsey in other words, is employing a similar critical strategy as Asad does. Dempsey uses Bhabha’s theory of hybridization and ambivalence to complicate the perceptions of absolute domination and subordination within differing power groups while simultaneously avoiding romantic and utopian notions of religious and cultural syncretism. In exploring the hybridity of the European import, Dempsey clarifies for us the real implications of Bhabha’s project—hybridity is articulated within the context of religious and spiritual practice. Dempsey first outlines the cult of Alphonsa, an indigenous Keralaite saint. Her thesis is that the Indian context of these cults demonstrates that Indian Christianity could never be “entirely Romanized” (or Anglicized or Americanized). Her examination of the cult of Alphonsa throws light on the complicated process of identity formation among contemporary Kerala Syrian Catholics who wish to repeatedly and starkly express distinctions between East (us) and West (them) but who nevertheless look to Rome and the West for institutional guidance and approval (this last cogently demonstrated by the popular and sentimental investment in the Vatican canonization process). Alphonsa thus has become a saint and champion of Syrian Christian self-identification. The interesting point that Dempsey provides here is how such a reification of identity in Kerala rests on a sort of reverse Orientalism—the “West” (them) is spiritually and morally decrepit, while the “East” (us) is a spiritual and nonmaterialistic paragon. The cult of Alphonsa functions within such logic as the antidote to an enticing Western materialism (27). The saint functions as a tie to India’s acclaimed Christian past (the Syrian Christians claim that they were evangelized by Thomas the apostle) as well as to India’s civilizing and philosophical Hindu past. All things Western today, which tempt impressionable youth, (including Western Christianity in the form of American-based evangelical or Protestant groups) stand to make “us” lose what is irreducibly “Indian.” The point that I wish to make with my historical foray into Dempsey’s interpretation of Bhabha’s idea of hybridity is to highlight tensions that can be perceived with Bhabha’s idea of hybridity if the religious context of this phenomenon is taken into account. Dempsey


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maintains that Bhabha sometimes overstates his case for hybridity. For example, one of the aspects of hybridity that he foregrounds is that of the ambiguity and ambivalence of the hybrid. According to Dempsey’s research, colonial hybridity, when reflected from the native’s point of view does not really reflect ambivalence at all. European statues and saints notwithstanding, Keralaites and their devotion to (white) saints reflect an unambiguous anti-Western stance. In other words, the hybrid, once domesticized, ceases to be a hybrid at all. This domestic hybrid (European statues, European garb for the religious, etc.) then serves as defiance against new incursions of power by the contemporary West. The converse is also true—the postcolonial hybrid subject is not simply a force against colonial power but also a force against powers of domestic religious nationalism. Hybridity therefore is the site of agency in an inalienably religious context. What Dempsey highlights for us is also that the domestic hybrid is based on a particular metaphysical assumption: that the hybrid offers some certitude on which to base one’s actions, particularly actions of foreign or nationalistic resistance. There is no doubt or ambiguity in the minds of these practitioners concerning the particular power of religious hybridity, which is the source of their agential activity against domestic and foreign power. Given the above critiques of hybridity, it is obvious that Bhabha’s notion of cultural hybridity is lacking its religious dimension. Hence, Bhabha’s argument that it was cultural hybridity that inhibited conversion to Christianity in India in the colonial context forgoes an even more important assertion. In my view, the insight that Bhabha lacks in regard to Christian conversions in India is that conversion did not mean only the change of religious and communal loyalty. It also meant conversion of a different kind, grounded in the daily life and experiences of the people for whom being Hindu or Indian meant that pluralism there had a transcendent source: God who reveals Godself in all religious systems wholly and completely was not to be contained only in the proclamation of that particular religious system. One could therefore embrace the Christian message, even worship the Christian God alongside a host of other deities and read and revere the Bible as an act of mimicry. This is hybridity in the colonial annals. Conversion was not about change in identity; it was about incorporating other religious claims into one’s own. It is this move that best expressed the best integrity of the Indian culture a move that Asad claims that Bhabha misses. To take Asad’s critique of Bhabha further, I would say that the polytheistic view of the world that the Hindus negotiated from was

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also profoundly aware of the circulations of power. First, the tactic of mimicry as Bhabha articulates was targeted towards the domestic tyrannies of the priestly class. On the other hand, it was acceptable and desirable that the Bible was the “word of God” (save for its status as the word of God alongside other words of God). Possibly, such a polytheistic move can be historically attributed to the fact that the Indian subcontinent and culture have been subject to a number of incursions of colonizing power. The survival of the culture has greatly depended on mechanisms that are polycentric—rooted in my view, in a multireligious world. Here, the integrity of the cultural system is exhibited precisely in the fact that a religious and theological worldview undergirds the ability of people to take control of the manner in which difference is perceived. To locate the integrity of the Indian culture requires the perspective of Hindu theological anthropology: a view of who we are and how we should live under God. Deconstructing Bhabha’s notion of hybridity thus far has led us to the next step for a constructive postcolonial theological proposal on identity, which requires outlining how specifically religious and theological views of the human grasping of God can indeed contribute to a theology of culture and conversion in India. In choosing Karl Rahner’s theological anthropology as a conversation partner, I wish to highlight both the fact that a progressive Catholic theology can indeed contribute to this venture, while being able to provide the foundation of critiques pointing to the absence of a religious and theological imagination in analyses of culture. Rahner’s theology however remains highly problematic for uncritical retrieval in the postcolonial context. In the interest of developing a postcolonial theology, I will argue that Indian postcolonial theologians will benefit from a creative retrieval of Rahner in such a way as to be able to incorporate the dimension of culture that Bhabha provides. Further, such a retrieval of theological themes may provide grounds for extending postcolonial secular theory beyond its Western academic enclave to reflect authentic agency in India. The constructive retrieval of Rahner turns on Bhabha’s emphasis on negotiation. As has been argued, hybridity as a site of enunciation is a result of a complex interaction between power, culture, and religious commitment. Such a hybridity is not a new phenomenon in the history of the Indian subcontinent, a point that even Bhabha will concede. Can the intuition that hybridity in the colonial archives and in the historical annals of cultural encounter in India depends on Hindu theological anthropology be tested as a hypothesis? It is important to bear in mind that the notion of “Hindu” theological anthropology


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relates to Bhabha’s example as such. Religious identities in India in general are variously hybrid and plural and each religious group can articulate its particular mode of hybrid enunciation. In view of such existing hybrid modes, theology in the Indian postcolonial context similarly needs clear articulation. Consequently, engaging with Rahner’s theological anthropology and retrieving it for intercultural theology presents a unique and fruitful challenge.

The “Supernatural Existential”: Grace as Intrinsic to Religious Identity
Can a theological view of the human being, one that attempts no division between religion and culture form the basis of a postcolonial theology of identity? Since this is the constructive agenda before postcolonial theologians, we can benefit from examining prior moves that unify theological and philosophical views of the human being in modernity. Karl Rahner is evaluated in this section for the primary move of holding together and refusing to accept the neoscholastic divide between nature and grace, theological categories that are not entirely devoid of a historical or social dimension. Rahner’s supernatural existential has been extensively written about (Carr, 1977; Haight, 1979; Duffy, 1992, 1993, 2005; Dych, 1992 among a host of others). However, the constructive potential of Rahner’s “supernatural existential” as having the potential to ground the claims of cultural and religious integrity is just beginning to be made clear. George Greiner for example, demonstrates that the reception of Rahner in Asia exhibits the general tendency to draw closer lines of continuity with its missionary past and arrival in parts of Asia through European missionary efforts (Griener, 2005, 53–71). Moreover, writes Greiner, some of these theological efforts strongly argue that they bear points of resemblance to Rahner’s theological anthropology. Greiner quotes Shim Sang-Tai, director of the Korean Christian Thought Institute:
Rahner’s theological insight and conviction of the supernatural existential and anonymous Christianity give a fresh impetus to contemporary Korean theologians to renew and to continue their ancestors’ unfinished work to inculturate Christian Faith in Korean culture and present reality. —in private communication to Greiner, quoted in Greiner, 2005, 61.

Other examples of creative retrieval of Rahner’s supernatural existential and anonymous Christian include Japanese and Chinese

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attempts according to Greiner. Consequently, it seems as if these two issues have much bearing on the trajectory of Asian theology as a whole as well as for the project of retrieving Rahner for intercultural theology. In what follows, I attempt to present a reading of the supernatural existential and the anonymous Christian in light of the concerns of hybridity. If hybridity is the site of enunciation and agency, then the larger culture of the Indian subcontinent and its plural religious commitments directly have bearing on it. Christianity is not entirely a missionary product in India and retrieving a Eurocentric theologian in the time of cultural, political, and economic globalization enhances theological thinking in the postcolonial context. The secularist claim that religious formulations of human agency erase historical contingency is negated in the manner that Rahner emphasizes the historical dimension of the supernatural existential. Rahner establishes the “supernatural existential” as the basis of theological and religious subjectivity. Through the idea of the supernatural existential, Rahner seeks to establish a theological basis of human transcendence asserting that every human being has the capacity to be a “Hearer of the Word.” Human beings are presented here as beings in relationship to God—spiritual beings whose very spatiotemporality denotes transcendence. In the idea of the supernatural existential, Rahner attempts to unify everything around the idea of God whose agapic sharing of self is intrinsic to God’s very being. This agapic sharing of Godself is present in all human beings and is therefore an “existential.” As mentioned in chapter1, Rahner developed the idea of “existential” from Heidegger to indicate those features that were constitutive of human experience. Freedom and the ability for openness to God are existentials in the lives of human beings. Existentials function in history and any theological presentation of human freedom or agency allows for such a specific relation to the divine. In presenting such an anthropocentric basis for theological thought about the human being, Rahner fails to examine the problem of difference and the disciplining effects of power on difference. Nevertheless, as a primary move to establishing a theological foundation for human agency, the supernatural existential does have the potential to critique purely secular accounts of agency. All human activity therefore is a response to God’s call. For Rahner, the human being as the event of God’s self-communication (1978, 126–133) reveals the covenant God makes with us through the supernatural existential. In other words, the concept of the supernatural existential underlines the relational reality between God and human


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beings. Here Rahner asserts strongly that God’s self-communication is not to be objectified and reified in the human consciousness. Instead, the whole human being is a revelation-in-process of God, which is simultaneously a revelation of human beings themselves. Human beings come to be because of the covenant and continue to become because of the same. In other words, human transcendence is based in a gratuitous gift of self in relationship by God. Such is the nature of grace—the selfcommunication of God. Grace is present in all human beings, at all times, at least in the mode of an offer. Each of us also has both the capacity to deny and reject this offer and also to freely accept and affirm the presence of this offer. Grace as covenant constitutes human freedom:
The mode in which God’s self-communication is present with respect to human freedom does not nullify the real presence of this self-communication as something offered. For even an offer merely as antecedently given or as rejected by freedom must not be understood as a communication, which could exist, but does not. It must rather be understood as a communication which has really taken place, and as one by which freedom as transcendental is and remains always confronted really and inescapably. (Rahner, 1978, 128)

From one view, Rahner’s presentation of human freedom as radically free to respond to the gift of God apotheosizes the human being, contributing to the requirement of a positive anthropology in formerly colonized cultures as previously mentioned. From another however, the stringently anthropocentric starting point poses problems for critical theories. Does Rahner’s delineation of “capacity” restrict the potential of the supernatural existential to those with the intellectual capacity and social and political freedom to make decisions for freedom? I would suggest that the move required to make Rahner’s theory more amenable within heterogeneous contexts is to make much more room for paradox, contingency, and contradiction than he does. Rahner does make one significant effort to accommodate paradox and contingency in the manner described. Even though he situates the supernatural existential in human nature, the supernatural existential itself escapes being completely graspable. In the immediacy and presentness in the self-communication of God, grace possesses a hidden quality that is not directly available for introspection and observation because of its dynamic quality (Rahner, 1978, 130). It exists, but it lends itself to a continual process of transformation in the human being. Rahner cautions us here that there is no real need to

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categorize such an experience of transformation as primarily religious. The “original experience of God can be so universal, so unthematic and so unreligious, that it takes place . . . whenever we are living out our existence” (Rahner, 1978, 132). In other words, the supernatural existential can exist in a rather anonymous manner in human beings. Its presence, however, reveals to us our nature as beings in relationship with God. For a theology of identity and conversion, such an idea that underlies the potential in human beings for relationship to God provides for a viable theory of transcendence that the more secular theories of culture and conversion seem to miss. The explanation for Bhabha’s Hindu natives creating the interstitial, in-between, third space of accommodation of the Christian book may have more to do with transcendence than with hybridization of cultural identity. For Rahner, transcendence exists on account of the capacity of both human and divine beings to be able to relate to each other. The human/divine relationship therefore exists within a framework of personal relatedness, within presentness, and within history: the arena of grace. Grace of course is absolute gift and absolutely free. In Hearer of the Word, Rahner maintains:
As spirits who know the absolute being, we stand before the latter as before a freely self-disposing person. And this personal face of God is not ascribed to God because we belatedly provide absolute being with human features. Rather, God appears as a person in the self-disclosure of absolute being for human transcendence, because absolute being appears in the totality of being about which we not only can but must inquire . . . Insofar as the free positing of God makes God appear to us as a person, the knowledge of this personal God depends always on God’s own free decision. (Rahner, 1994, 70)

God is recognized by God’s enacting of freedom. It is a freedom to be open to human beings that grounds their freedom in turn for the one who listens and accepts this revelation is also bound by a covenant:
. . . at the heart of the finite spirit’s transcendence there lives a love of God. Our openness toward absolute being is carried by our affirmation of our own existence. This affirmation is a voluntary attitude of ours with regard to ourselves, and in final analysis, a reaching out of finite love for God, because as will of the spirit, it can affirm the finite only as carried by God’s self-affirmation. (Rahner, 1994, 82)

Both the divine and human selves in this paradigm are communicative agents whose freedom basically is the freedom to affirm the indelible


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mark of the one in the other. Humans are bound to God, just as God is bound to humans—in freedom and love. What grounds this covenantal bond between the two is the human and divine capacity for each other. As an ongoing processual relationship between divine and human, the supernatural existential preserves the immediacy and presentness of revelation. Revelation therefore continues to be a manifold reality, and part of the human being’s capacity for God is to realize that such continued activity occurs on God’s part. This is dependent on a communicative model of relating in the subjunctive mode. This modality of relation exists in a state of constant possibility. It happens unfailingly in the present moment and always in the form of an utterly gratuitous invitation. Thus, we are not to be combing history for spoken or written words, but we are (in Rahner’s model) to be in a listening/ anticipating mode because revelation has an immediacy and presentness and continuing dimension to it. If the immediacy of communication happens in the unfailingly present moment, then the next logical question to ask is where the place of revelation actually is. Part IV of Hearer of the Word (Rahner, 1994, 91–143) addresses precisely this question. The place of revelation is always human beings themselves—in the manner that they are transcendence-as-spirit-in-the-world—in their historical subjectivity. Thus, he states: “To be human is to be spirit as a historical being” (94). Rahner assures us here that he is speaking of a human history:
But what is human history? We must not merely set down a definition of it. The meaning of human history should become clear to us from an examination of our historicity in the midst of our transcendence. We must establish our historicity not merely through empirical observation, nor through the simple accumulation of concrete facts. We must understand historicity as belonging to our basic nature. As long as this had been done, we might always imagine that, because of our spiritual nature, we might believe that we can try to put ourselves, as spirit, above our history, to emancipate ourselves from it, and thus to exclude history from the start as the possible place of a revelation. As spirit we possess the absolute possibility of attempting this, not of succeeding in it. Thus we must show that turning toward our history is an inner moment of our spiritual nature. (95)

Clearly, for Rahner there is no possibility of presenting “history” apart from its transcendent dimensions. From a Rahnerian perspective therefore, any theory of culture and conversion necessarily must

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understand history as dependent on the human capacity to be spiritual. Consequently, history and human nature are “elevated” revealing Rahner’s use of the Thomistic framework. The idea of the supernatural existential cannot be comprehended without its indebtedness to “Transcendental Thomism.” Transcendental Thomism allows Rahner to elevate human knowledge in terms of divine communication. This move in Rahner is significant because it can be demonstrated here that Rahner does indeed take history seriously. Transcendentality is not therefore simply the capacity of the human being to know. It is also the capacity to be grasped by the divine in historical particularity. Thomas Sheehan asserts in his analysis (987) of the influence of Pierre Rousselot (1878–1915) and Joseph Maréchal (1878–1944) on Rahner, that Rahner’s version of Transcendental Thomism, gives rise to a novel reading of Aquinas’ view of human knowledge.4 For example, Rousselot and Maréchal attempt to “retrieve” Aquinas’ thought in terms of the modern “turn to the subject,” by focusing on the dynamism of subjectivity or the “interior movement of the soul towards absolute reality” (Sheehan, 1987, 56). In this reworking of Aquinas’ theory of human knowledge, “being” is the same as “thinking”—that is, transcendence in human beings has an absolute quality. Understanding in this view is directly related to one’s seeking for God. Thus, Sheehan points out the critical factor here that ontology and natural theology become identical in Rahner:
. . . the human being is a metaphysician (panta pps, capax entis) only because they are already implicitly theologians (theos pps, capax dei). In short, the problematic of the unity of the thematic science of metaphysics is reduced to the question of the unity of the human spirit, which is directed to being because it is directed to the divine. (Sheehan, 1987, 56–57)

When we take into account the self-presence and the active role of the knower, we have a “kinetic” view of knowledge (Sheehan, 1987, 69). The idea of kinesis moreover connects Rahner to Heidegger, Sheehan asserts, helping Rahner to present a more historicized metaphysics: Rahner therefore uses Heidegger to wring “an existential transcendental turn out of Aquinas” and “uses Aquinas to extort an affirmation of God out of Heidegger” (Sheehan, 1987, 114). The important thing here for Sheehan is the similarity and difference of Rahner’s appropriation of these ideas:
. . . as Rahner, freely citing Heidegger, puts it: Unless we first let ourselves be grasped, we shall not be able to grasp in turn. But then


I d e n t i t y, E t h i c s , a n d N o n v i o l e n c e comes the parting of ways. Heidegger sees the human being’s movement as grasped or appropriated by an unknowable “recess” which cannot be spoken of in terms of beingness but which is the reason why there is beingness at all, whereas Rahner reads the appropriating recessive term as pure beingness, absolute esse, which (he claims) all human beings can know and do call “God.” (Sheehan, 1987, 115, original emphasis)

Rahner’s philosophy of religion is embedded in a theological and spiritual view that the human being in their historicity abides within a horizon of divine grasping and self-offering and self-communication. In other words, all of human temporality, contingence, and finitude are enveloped by the supernatural existential and its offer of grace. Rahner is emphatic that his understanding of grace is predicated on the idea of the supernatural existential. Every person, everywhere, is an event of the offer of God, he declares, though not all human beings accept this offer in the same way everywhere. But the very existence of the offer bespeaks the ability to accept or reject the offer. The emphasis on spirituality reveals that the notion of the supernatural existential is developed by Rahner within the framework of Ignatian spiritual discipline. Thus, realizing the potential of the supernatural existential requires a spiritual practice in history. We “wend our way” in the world as spirit, open to being, as historical spirits. Spirituality in other words only has meaning in historical concreteness. Historical spirits that we are, moreover, we necessarily only manifest our humanity in our plurality (HW, 111) and in our “spatiotemporality.” Thus Rahner says:
To be a human person is essentially to be one among many of our kind, with whom we are together in space and time on account of our inner essence, [we say nothing but]: We are historical, in the concrete sense of a human history. (1994, 112, original emphasis)

Authentic human history however, is only possible in the “uniqueness and unforeseeablity” of human freedom. In other words, the God of surprises that we encountered can only work in the surprising unpredictability of human decision. Historicity in other words is the “domain of transcendence”: a transcendence, which is also always historicity. Revelation depends on the view of the human being as spirit in history. As Spirit, God, who is not of our space and time and transcends our world, comes to it objectively, immanent to us in our space and

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time. George Vass, commenting on the historical dimension of the supernatural existential, makes this point forcefully:
Revelation is therefore not first and foremost information about something, but a disclosure of one’s own being, of one’s own self and subjectivity. The human being is “on the lookout” for this human word in order that they may listen to God’s word. Any other way of God coming near them would annul those transcendental structures of the human being’s subjectivity, which they experience. God, in speaking to us in human words takes into account what we, within our limits, are. From this seems to follow that the appearance, the word, is the synthesis of transcendence and categorical objectivity. God is not only known in the abstract qualities we ascribe to being in its totality: God can also be known through an encounter, through God’s historical appearance in human words. God can be “figured out” within history. (1985, 96, original emphases)

It is history understood in the above manner that constitutes human beings. History is the event of transcendence in that every encounter of the human being of another or of God reveals to them the dynamism inherent in human life. Consequently, therefore, “culture” which is how human beings experience history, is likewise capable of the transcendence that Rahner is speaking of. The three interrelated ideas of covenantal relationship, immediacy of message, and transcendence of historicity gives concrete form to Rahner’s idea of the supernatural existential. What Rahner wants to assert is that revelation is possible in the most surprising of ways in history and also that the content of such a revelation will be available only to discerning listeners. Because human beings participate in the communicative act between God and themselves, the undergirding idea of the supernatural existential is the reality of grace as a constituent of our historical existence. Such grace is not limited by space or time, but is present in all human affairs, in space and in time. In terms of our larger discussion of a theology of identity and conversion, it would seem pertinent that the supernatural existential be understood as the evidence of grace in the manner that human beings consent to a common way of life. To be sure, Rahner’s idea of historicity does not contain any substantive understanding of culture. However, any theory of identity and conversion can find ways to correlate the ideas of relationality, immediacy, and transcendence of history. Perhaps it is Bhabha’s proposals that fall short in this regard.


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How can Rahner’s theology of grace enhance intercultural theology? We have seen in this section that Rahner develops the idea of the supernatural existential with a two-pronged goal—on the one hand he wishes to preserve the dynamism of grace and on the other he wishes to preserve human individuality and freedom. He does so by emphasizing that each encounter between the divine and human is a singular and unprecedented one. Transcendental Thomism provides him a way to speak of the elevation of the human being as a spiritual being and Heidegger provides him a way to assert a metaphysical a priori rather than simply a transcendental a priori. Further features of the supernatural existential include the immediacy and “presentness” of divine communication, historicity as the domain of transcendence, and the view of human beings as existing within a horizon of divine grasping and self-offering. Aspects of human freedom that are thrown into relief in this dynamism of grace and revelation are that the ability to accept or reject this offer is predicated on the divine communication, that the offer is made to everyone, everywhere, in concrete historical circumstances, and that both acceptance and rejection of the offer of God require the response of the human being. As the basis of his theological anthropology, the supernatural existential emphasizes the working of grace in concrete human life. The dynamic of grace that is basic to the experience of being human has ramifications for the way human beings live with each other in the context of pluralism. The presence of the supernatural existential as a constitutive element of human freedom means that there is a theological rationale for human agency in the postcolonial context in a Rahnerian reading. In my view, human/divine relationality in Rahner is the interpretive ground on which Indian Hindus accept the missionary’s gift at Hardwar from a postcolonial Christian theological perspective. Second, Rahner’s delineation of the supernatural existential emphasizes immediacy. Bhabha and Rahner’s proposals are concurrent here—the strategy of hybridity of identity happens in the immediate and the contingent (hence reflecting its inventive capacity) and the realization of the relationship with the divine happens always in the immediate and the contingent for Rahner as well. For a theological presentation of agency, the emphasis on the immediate allows for a religious basis for cultural negotiation. Finally, culture itself can be argued to have a theory of transcendence. Such a theory of transcendence of culture, or, a theology of grace for intercultural theology, is not spelled out in either Bhabha or Rahner and will have to develop in the constructive dimension of a postcolonial theology.

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Porous Cultural Boundaries
How exactly is “culture” to be utilized in a postcolonial theology? In the past, culture has provided the standpoint for contextual theologies, also called “local” theologies. Some earlier understandings of culture defined it as the body of beliefs and values shared by all members of a religious group, ethnic identity, or a nation. Postcolonial theorists since have advanced differing notions of culture in which asymmetrical power relations are the effect and consequence of meaning production. Precisely because power relations infuse cultural identity, a solid, bounded identity cannot be presumed in the postcolony. “Culture” as Bhabha understands it is not a bounded entity. Its porous nature means that identity is always negotiated—new, surprising, and hybrid. Cultural difference is seen to be an effect of discriminatory practices by power and authority. Conflict need not necessarily arise in the presence of difference—conflict arises when power and authority deem difference to be undesirable and polluting. Hybridity intervenes to remind power and authority to indicate the impossibility of a clear and bounded identity—but its very presence introduces unpredictability and destability. It is the site of enunciation that is also a strategy for inclusion. Bhabha forwards the notions of iteration and mimicry as constitutive of hybridity. The moments of iteration and mimicry function as strategies for inclusion on terms other than what the colonial authority is willing to make. While such a definition of culture goes far in denying any stable and static essence of identity, for postcolonial theology, the question has to do with how hybridizing strategies are rooted in the culture, especially if the culture does not attempt the separation of the religious dimension as Bhabha does. I suggest hence that his argument does not go as far as it could for the Indian postcolonial context. His argument in the performance exhibits flourishes of impatience with the idea that a book such as the Bible is able “to do its own work” (Bhabha, 1994, 117) among the people. The success of the bible has to be attributed to other reasons. Thus Bhabha asserts:
When the natives demand an Indianized gospel, they are using the powers of hybridity to resist baptism and put the project of conversion in an impossible position . . . The natives stipulation that only mass conversions would persuade them to take the sacrament touches on a tension between missionary zeal and the East India Company Statutes for 1814 which strongly advised against such proselytizing. When they make these intercultural hybrid demands, the natives are both challenging the boundaries of discourse and subtly changing its terms by


I d e n t i t y, E t h i c s , a n d N o n v i o l e n c e setting up another specifically colonial space of the negotiations of cultural authority. And they do this under the eye of power, through the production of ‘partial’ knowledges and positionalities in keeping with my earlier, more general explanation of hybridity. (118–119)

Once again, Bhabha’s cultural-model-analyzing power depends on the hybrid mode that nevertheless marginalizes a religious or theological mode. He never asks the question of why the Bible makes it as a household deity and this divine status is left unexamined as a few pages later he declares: And what is the significance of the Bible? Who knows? Bhabha ignores and marginalizes a specifically theological interpretation of this question and therefore is unable to assess why exactly the Bible continues to exert a hold on the natives. A postcolonial theology of identity can utilize Rahner’s scheme that situates in human subjectivity the ability to be grasped by the divine. The boundary between the divine and the human in Rahner for example is shown to be porous and open to incursions from without. A specifically Indian and theological reflection on this rhetorical flourish in Bhabha with which he leaves this discussion will demonstrate that conversions did happen in India. Instead of the colonial archive however, he would have to examine Indian Christian religious history where cultural resistance to domestic tyranny was demonstrated through conversions. Bhabha stands to learn much from the inculturation and liberation models of constructive theological thinking in India, which showed very early on that conversion did not mean a total change of identity. In fact, they depended on hybridizing strategies precisely in the manner that Bhabha demonstrates with regard to cultural identity. Sathianthan Clarke (Clarke and Robinson, 2003, 289), maintains that in the study of conversion in India, religion includes both an integrative and a subversive aspect. Since religion offers its adherents a framework for collective living, it allows for “cultural” boundaries to be constructed with a view to harmonious life with different groups. Culturally differentiated groups therefore, drawing on religious resources to integrate, may convert with a view to enhance communal amity. Boundaries that are drawn with qualifications regarding their relative stability are redrawn to be inclusive in view of the greater good of harmony. On the other hand, Clarke asserts, religious identity can have a subversive dimension in that one can draw on it to perform acts of resistance. Here, the decision to convert will highlight dissent toward either domestic or globalizing forces. Such a view is presented in Gauri Viswanathan’s excellent study of conversion as dissent in

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India titled Outside the Fold: Conversion, Modernity and Belief (1998). These tendencies in religion are not mutually exclusive and will be foregrounded in the act of conversion as the situation demands. In other words, Bhabha’s thesis that depends on the Hindus rejecting conversion as a hallmark of cultural agency is proved highly problematic in a culture in which religious commitments play a far greater part in the culture than he is willing to concede. There is a tighter relationship between religion and culture than Bhabha acknowledges. The assimilationist modes of relating religion and culture do not create the split between religion and culture in the manner that Bhabha tends to do. In fact, the syncretic, hybridizing, and liberationist modes of religious identity in India would have only advanced his thesis. Sebastian Kim for example (2003) presents two forms of Roman Catholic response to conversion in India. Further, In the 1970s and 1980s many Indian students of theology (mostly clergy) studied with Rahner in Germany. Consequently, their liberation and inculturation theologies were infused with Rahnerian motifs. These developments led to competing approaches to contextualizing the gospel in India, identified by Kim as the inculturation model and the liberation model. Both models took culture to be inseparable from religion. In fact, the theological imagination that was engendered in this time forcefully grounded agency and freedom in the manner that culture and religion was understood to operate together. In the first, the inculturation mode, the definition of conversion that emerges draws on the continuity of the cultural context. Thus, theologians such as Raimundo Pannikar argued that:
(Conversion) does not mean from a Christian point of view, a changing “over” to another culture, another tradition or even “another” religion, but a changing “in”, a changing into new life, a new existence, a new creation, which is precisely the old one—and not another—but transformed, lifted up, risen again. (1981, 18)

In the liberation theology group, the definition of conversion in India aligned itself with Gutierrez’s definition of conversion in his A Theology of Liberation:
Conversion means a radical transformation of ourselves; it means thinking, feeling and living for Christ—present in exploited and alienated persons. To be converted is to commit oneself to the process of the liberation of the poor and the oppressed. (Gutierrez, 1988, 118)


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Intense debates in India around these two forms of conversion immediately highlighted the limits of these methods. On the one hand, the inculturated form of conversion was charged with colluding with the caste system and with high-caste and Brahmanical traditions and thus raising the ire of the largely lower caste or Dalit populations. In other words, inculturation models of the kind advanced by people such as Pannikar were perceived to be not political enough to make conversion a viable option in India’s postcolonial Christian context. Nevertheless, aligning with the political majority can also be read as a specifically political move. This aspect of inculturated theology needs to be highlighted in contemporary reflections on the same. The second form of conversion, which explicitly addressed the structural and social problems experienced by the Dalits, found itself competing with Islamic attempts to convert Dalits to Islam as well attempting to answer the charge of simply being a social movement that lacked a spiritual basis. The idea of conversion here was considered moot since it did not seem to be a “real conversion” and simply seemed to address social problems, which could be addressed, by any religious community or even a secular one. Caste Hindus and nationalist Hindus in grasping this truth used it to attack the integrity of the conversion by calling it (just) politically motivated. These two forms of conversion in India—one too accommodating to the political majority and the other too accommodating to the political minority— seem mired in mutually exclusive claims. Nevertheless, the conversation about conversion in India as the above-mentioned studies show present a religiously constructed framework that is deeply aware of identity and power issues in the manner that Bhabha theorizes. Bhabha is more than willing to say that the phenomenon of hybridity goes beyond what can be expressed in words alone. In my reading, his rhetorical flourishes that ask questions of the Bible in the colonized space make some room for an imagination of a very different kind. Bhabha does acknowledge that “culture” possesses transcendence, though he does not develop this idea comprehensively.5 Bhabha in his post–postmodern mode wants to assert that the idea of the beyond has to do with moving beyond the narratives of particular subjectivities and identities to the realm of culture. The idea of the beyond has to do with “exceeding the boundaries” (Bhabha, 1994, 4), which is an unknowable and unrepresentable act. The space just outside the boundary then functions as the space of invention and intervention: an encounter with “newness that is not part of the continuum of the past and the present” (Bhabha, 1994, 7). He further argues that the process of hybridity opens up uncanny and

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strange spaces and nowhere is this more clearly seen than the manner in which “God’s name” is made uncanny and strange:
In the colonial discourse, that space of the other is always occupied by an idee fixé: despot, heathen, barbarian, chaos, violence. If these symbols are always the same, their ambivalent repetition makes them the signs of a much deeper crisis of authority that emerges in the lawless writing of the colonial sense. There, the hybrid tongues of the colonial space make even the repetition of the name of God uncanny: “every native term which the Christian missionary can employ to communicate the Divine truth is already appropriated as the chosen symbol of some counterpart deadly error” writes Alexander Duff, the most celebrated of nineteenth-century Indian missionaries, with trepidation. (Bhabha, 1994, 101, emphasis added)

The fact of hybridity leads Bhabha to make the conclusion that in the actual encounter with the other, the human beings’ symbol-making capacity also undergoes transformations. Authoritarian colonial culture finds that its most valuable symbols such as “God” are translated in the colonial context without any official support. In other words, once the symbol of God is launched in the context of asymmetrical power relations, it is out of the control of even the most officious of guardians and what will result in the end is under nobody’s specific control. The strange and uncanny thing that happens even to “God” is on a specifically theological and religious register. Bhabha never concedes as much and clearly wishes to remain out of the discussion of the multivalency and ungraspability of religious symbols and the concomitant assertions of the ability of symbol-makers. He never entertains the idea that it could be on the plane of comparative metaphysics that these cultures begin to bridge their differences. While it is true that the colonial context engenders much imaginative sympathy, leading to the state of hybridity, Bhabha never explores that certain values and assumptions about human nature, human endeavors and the divine can be shared by quite disparate cultures and this is what may facilitate the negotiations between them. A further issue is raised with Bhabha’s insistence: negotiated iteration. Negotiated iteration is the ability of very ordinary folk to confound identity by seeking inclusion on their terms. These everyday people, both men and women, are not special practitioners of any esoteric knowledge or ability. The drive to secure agency for the subaltern means, in this view, a securing of agency for very ordinary folk who may be seen to be spectacular “failures” in much theoretical and political discourse in their hybrid attempts to imitate and mimic. But what


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is deemed “failure” by imperial authority is a survival mechanism for those negotiating with power. Bhabha ponders on moments of displacement, migration, movement, and forced displacement: all moments of “failure,” leading to negotiated strategies for inclusion, but does not investigate the strategy of iteration as a ploy to defer success. That deference may well be the key to the paradoxical success of “failure.” A key component of such strategies is the ability to trust. Bhabha invokes the poor “failure” Mr. Biswas (who we met in chapter 1, whose name means trust). This element of failure seems to slide by Bhabha. It is not clear to me how Bhabha intends to “theorize failure” in the postcolonial context, without paying adequate attention to Mr. Biswas and his ability to trust in something beyond himself and his ethical choices that he makes clear “by being in the middle” (Bhabha, 2000, 379). If Bhabha is looking to grasp the hybridity of Mr. Biswas who is able to navigate various obstacles to his being fully human in his current environment, then Bhabha has to make place for who Mr. Biswas is—in his humanity, in his openness, and in his trust— that he will survive even though he is a “failure.” The ineffability of Mr. Biswas’ humanity signals the need for a more nuanced presentation of the nature of the boundary as it makes room for “negotiated iteration.” Critically, the proper disposition to such an incursion is trust. Trust in the face of incursions from without bespeaks a specific investment in relationality and the uncanny spaces. If we are to theorize failure from a postcolonial theological perspective, we could possibly address Bhabha’s problem about the efficacy of the Bible from a slightly different perspective. Failure in India may well be success as E.M. Forster maintained, especially when the Bible seems to have a life of its own:
The grounds of evangelical certitude are opposed not by the simple assertion of an antagonistic cultural tradition. The process of translation is the opening up of another contentious political and cultural site at the very heart of colonial representation. Here the word of divine authority is deeply flawed by the assertion of the indigenous sign, and in the very practice of domination the language of the master becomes hybrid . . . . the “subtile system of Hinduism,” as the missionaries in the early 19th century called it, generated tremendous policy implications for the institutions of Christian conversion. The written authority of the Bible was challenged and together with it a post enlightenment notion of the “evidence of Christianity” and its historical priority, which was central to evangelical colonialism. The Word could no longer be trusted to carry the truth when written or

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It is very clear to me that for Bhabha, the original response to colonial power and domination happens in a context replete with theological themes like trust and relationality at the boundary. Of course, he does not dwell on it or acknowledge it. The fact that the Word has the power to evade the total control of its so-called experts is a theological issue and demands a theological response. What if the natives are able, willy-nilly, to establish a relationship with the Word? It is then the Word that actually empowers the natives beyond the expectation of its official guardians and even beyond the expectation of the natives themselves. R.S. Sugirtharajah calls this strategy of reading “poaching” (Sugirtharajah, 2003, 82–85) and says that is a strategy that requires a great deal of trust:
. . . texts become a mirror in which (people) read their hope and despair. For them and countless people, the impetus to interpret stems from the need to make sense of their lives, and in this respect the hermeneutics of poaching is an existential impulse. Hence, there is the attempt by people to invoke clearly identifiable typological models located within the Bible and apply them directly to their current psychological, political and spiritual quagmires. In such circumstances, texts settle the readers’ current existential dilemma and offer them succor. (84)

Hence, reading the Bible in the context of colonialism is an example of trust and relation. This idea reveals not the rhetorical/political topos that Bhabha wishes to accentuate, but a distinctly theological/religious one. It is here, in such a religious topos that we can begin to articulate the convergences between the political questions of Bhabha and the theological ones of Rahner. Both thinkers, for example, stress the fact that subjectivity is relational. Thus, Bhabha depends on the idea of “negotiated iteration” (as distinguished from mere “iteration” which is always a hegemonizing move) to ground his idea of hybridity—hybridity as relational in that it allows not for the dissolution of differences but for a renegotiation of the structures of power that inform the construction of difference. Boundaries between identities do not collapse in some assimilationist strategy. Boundaries are simply criss crossed and interlaced. This is why the boundary becomes a site of cultural agency: the renegotiation at the boundary creates something radically new.


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Hybridizing relationality on this view is evidence that the boundary is porous. Significantly, negotiated iteration means that there is no necessity to do away with boundaries in encounter. Each boundary possesses logics of inclusivity and rules of ethical encounter that allows it to be porous especially in the face of asymmetrical power relations. Here trust and failure can begin to be theorized as the effects of the porous boundary. Texts and practices that allow for interpretive strategies to reveal the porosity of the boundary become doubly valuable in the colonial context. I assert that Bhabha will be unable to theorize trust and failure if he cannot take into account the strategies for communal living that religious groups make through the use of such texts and strategies. Consider for example, a move made by Rahner that points to the porosity of the boundary created by relationality and iteration. Doubtless, his maneuver is concretely set in Christian theological terms. However, his theology of religious identity demonstrates the emphasis on relationality and iteration that Bhabha deems necessary for postcolonial strategies of identity.

Porous Religious Boundaries
Developing a postcolonial theological interpretation of hybridity requires that the notion should enable us to grapple with the issue of identity in the postcolony. Since Bhabha only investigates the colonial archives, the constructive move would necessitate interpreting the events at Hardwar through the lens of theology. A Rahnerian theological assessment of the idea offers us the possibility of hybridity as grounded in religious and theological subjectivity rather than just cultural subjectivity as Bhabha argues. Before we make that move however, it has to be demonstrated that religious and theological systems have the capacity themselves to be porous and hybrid. Otherwise, the burden to be open and receptive is placed on the falsely separated sphere of religion, which is the problem as has been argued all along. Roger Haight argues that the notion of the supernatural existential leads to the conclusion in Rahner that other religious identities and claims may have legitimacy as well (Haight, 1979, 132–133). It is a term he writes: “a Christian [term], which defines first of all a Christian self-understanding vis-à-vis the continuing pluralism of religions. It represents an attempt to understand the world and other religions in terms of the definitive character of Christ’s grace. It is not a term to be addressed to non-Christians; it is a term applicable to others when Christians talk about them in terms of the revelation that

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we have received in Jesus Christ” (133, original emphases). Arguably, the notion of the anonymous Christian is probably the most contentious idea in Rahner’s theology. The debates around the issue are complex and intricate and revisiting them is beyond the scope of this book. What I would like instead is to show that the notion of anonymous Christian in Rahner is an example of porosity and hybridity in the manner that Bhabha speaks of. This interpretation, further, is meant to be a challenge to Bhabha’s secularist framework as an example of an inclusive strategy at the boundary of religious identity in a religiously and culturally pluralistic context such as India. In my reading of anonymous Christianity, I will argue that Rahner’s move which is related to identity formation be interpreted as an ethical move to be inclusive of the encounter with the religious “other.” The move may be deemed a “failure” for both conservative and liberal guardians of identity. I prefer to see it as a “narrative and ethical presence” (Bhabha, 2000, 379) in the manner of Mr. Biswas. Identity, conversion, and mission in a narrativized and ethical framework are to be interpreted in this view to be grounded in right relation with the neighbor. Trust in the engraced relationality established by the primary relationship between the divine and human is critical to the success of this strategy. Therefore, the manner in which contemporary Roman Catholics in India self-identify the boundaries of their catholicity is absolutely important. The special dialectic between boundary and identity is extremely pertinent here—no religious group, culture, or society can call itself multireligious or multicultural if its self-understanding of its boundaries is so plastic that no boundaries exist at all. Neither can the self-understating of the boundary be so rigid as to be impermeable and vitiate the public dimension of its theological assertions. “Conversion” therefore remains as Bhabha pointed out, the site of continued agonistic negotiations conceptualized as hybridity of identity, which results in the “middle” solution, in the interstitial third space. Pluralism in the postcolonial context cannot sweep under the carpet the rules of inclusion and exclusion that each community articulates, but asks whether these rules of inclusion and exclusion have the capacity to be porous. In my view, Rahner’s proposal for anonymous Christianity can be read in such a manner as to preserve a strong self understanding and investment in the preservation of boundaries while simultaneously being inclusive on Christian terms. It is a middle solution and one that is played out at the boundary of religious difference. If I can demonstrate that anonymous Christianity on Bhabha’s terms fulfills


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the requirements to be a strategy of iteration, a solution of the middle, a tactic of survival by being inclusive, then I can assert unambiguously that those proposals, which seem to make allowances for religious alterity have value for postcolonial theological thinking. In one of his earlier essays outlining the relationship between Christianity and the non-Christian religions, Rahner posits four theses that may seem extremely contentious today.6 The first one states that: “Christianity understands itself as the absolute religion, intended for all, which cannot recognize any other religion beside itself as of equal right” (Rahner, TI: 5, 115–134). This thesis relates to the issue of identity and its rules for inclusion and exclusion in that it attempts to clearly draw a boundary that distinguishes itself from other religions. Rahner maintains that the situation of pluralism is in an ever-increasing state of urgency today especially in the context of secularism and the encounter with other cultures and religions. In other words, Christianity’s self-identity at the boundary needs to be ever more clear and lucid especially when the state sponsors a virulent form of secularism and when the West can no longer proclaim itself as the center of the world. Rahner is already anticipating the postmodern debates on secularism, pernicious nationalism, and the problematic divide between religion and society. Further, the contemporary awareness that globalization has wrought upon the world a new polycentricism is anticipated in the manner that Rahner formulates identity. Rahner however, is most definitely not providing for an analysis of power differentials in these phenomena. This lack however, does not mean that the idea of a secure and lucid boundary to Christian identity immediately means grounds for asserting the charge of imperialism. I suggest here that the problem of identity formation in the context of globalization and statesponsored nationalism is the purview of a postcolonial theology, which needs to be accounted for in its constructive move. The first thesis then, as a distinctively catholic and orthodox move, reflects the solidifying of boundary markers in the context of debilitating (Western) pluralism.7 The dogmatic position for contemporary postcolonial theology in India is precisely in the solidification of the boundary to express what is significantly “Catholic.” The boundary here functions as the manner in which “difference” is experienced and presented as something relative to another standpoint. For Rahner, the basis of the assertion is not an “objectification” of the experience of God. It is rather the communication of God to human beings in their unique history, which has implications. In framing the implications of the communication of God to human beings, Rahner unambiguously utilizes dogmatic language. He therefore asserts that it is necessary for

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dogmatic Christianity to understand itself as the final destination of all human religious impulses, and second, that the objective acceptance of Christianity by individuals can be left as an open question precisely because of the effect of history. In other words, the self-definition of dogmatic Christianity includes a clear presentation of its identity as the ultimate form of human religious aspirations as well as the awareness that the journey to such a final form of religious fulfillment is unique and beyond individual and official control. In my view, Rahner has admirably strategized for inclusion at the boundary. The question of identity here is conceived in rigorously theological terms, which simultaneously make room for the certitude of belief as well as the ambiguity of history. History here is presented as the context in which human beliefs, expectations, and ethical actions rise—it is therefore not a reified concept but a social one in which Christianity is never exempt from the effects of social processes. For a theology of conversion, this last point in Rahner is pertinent. While he does not spell it out here, Rahner seems to be aware that social processes that are corrupt can indeed lead to spurious conversions to Christianity. He asserts that any theology of missions must be wary of “immature conversions” and will need to present Christian belief “with enough historical power to render the Christian religion really present” (121). A theology of conversion is therefore contingent on a clear presentation of Christian identity. No theology of conversion in the postcolonial context therefore can afford to collapse into uncritical syncretism. The hybridizing mode that Bhabha speaks about occurs as negotiation. Most importantly, this must be done because human history is one in which everyone else’s religious and cultural claims are part of each other’s self-identification. What Rahner is saying here is absolutely critical for a postcolonial theology. Postcolonial theology that depends on the dialogical mode for its constructive purposes cannot present itself without any clear understanding of its own standpoint. The very fact of pluralism or the fact of the possibility of dialogue presumes that there is a clearly different identity and a different basis for religious or theological claims. The second thesis claims that until the Gospel enters the historical situation of other religious claims, non-Christian religions can be recognized as lawful because of the condition of anonymous Christianity even though those religions may contain within themselves aberrations or sin. However, as Christians, we cannot subscribe to any idea that sets limits on God’s salvific power. The concept of salvation therefore is much more capacious than previously thought in


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Roman Catholic theology. A capacious idea of salvation comes from the ability both to imagine a less pessimistic anthropology and a much more optimistic theology of God whose “salvific will is more powerful than the extremely limited stupidity and evil-mindedness of human beings” (Rahner, 123). The understanding of other religious identity therefore as “lawful” means a religious identity that has been put into use by human beings to gain right relationship with God. Most importantly, right relationship with God is never achieved apart from the social conditions in which human beings find themselves which means that to be a Christian means to find a particular way of being one. Hence, the condition of anonymous Christianity confers upon other religions and cultural or historical contexts a possibility of envisioning a graced relationship with God. The formulation of this idea for a postcolonial theology further challenges the idea that identity categories are the most critical categories in debates on pluralism. In the postcolonial context, it may be the ethical moves that make identity porous that have more potential in the debates on conversion and identity. The anonymous Christianity category in the manner that Rahner has presented it argues that the boundary of self-identification needs to be lucid and clear while simultaneously being porous to the other utilizing an inner Christian logic. The third thesis obtains from the generalized picture of anonymous Christianity and refers to the manner in which Christians confront an individual who may be the member of another religion. In my view, Rahner goes on to radicalize the ethical dimension here. If grace is present in other religions and one’s historical and social situation is the matrix in which one develops a relationship to God, then, the presence of grace demands that such a person be treated similar to the manner in which one would treat a fellow Christian to whom God has revealed Godself. Once again, what undergirds this thesis is the incarnational and social structure of grace and Christianity. Theologies of mission arising from the pluralistic context must approach members of other religions as people in whom a rudimentary form of Christianity exists. Such a view of the religious other does not deny a vigorous theology of mission—Anonymous Christianity for Rahner is only a preliminary step in the realization of being Christian. For postcolonial theology therefore, the concept of anonymous Christianity, far from functioning in an imperialistic or colonial manner, has to do with comprehending the “other” in Christian terms. The secular critic in India will bring trumped up charges of exclusivity here—why has the Christian to perceive the other on Christian terms? Could not the other just be perceived on their own terms? The riposte

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to this argument for postcolonial theologians is that first, in the multicultural and multireligious context, it is a given that the standpoints of perception of self and other are clear and upfront. Identities, instead of collapsing into the mish-mash of uncritical syncretism, in the face of assaults by a homogenizing political and cultural agenda, actually seek to be hyper differentiated and secure. Most tellingly, Rahner himself conceded that it would be perfectly acceptable for him to be classified as an anonymous Buddhist should a Buddhist perform such a strategy of inclusion on Buddhist terms (Rahner, TI: 16, 219). What Rahner is doing in my view, is to make Christian theology intelligible in the context of pluralism, negotiating a median between identity created through exclusion of others and identity as absolutely relativized by other identities. A postcolonial theology of conversion requires that the agonism engendered by asymmetries of power leads to de-emphasizing identity politics to focus on ethical strategies of inclusivity. The fourth thesis speaks to the posture that the Church ought to take before other religions. The strategy of ethical inclusivity is also the responsibility of the institutional church. In its self- understanding that Christ’s saving grace is available to all in implicit forms, the Church becomes the “historically and socially constituted explicit expression of what the Christian hopes is present as a hidden reality even outside the visible Church” (Rahner, TI: 5, 133). The proper posture for the Church in the face of pluralism is “faith, hope and charity” through which anonymous Christians are embraced as “those who have not yet recognized who they really are.” For Rahner, the fact of pluralism is a dimension of the existential sphere of Christianity which means that “difference” in the world needs to be mediated through the lens of one’s beliefs, expectations, and ethical actions. A theology of conversion based on porous identity formulations and on negotiated relations seems to be much more amenable to a contemporary postcolonial theology in India today. Most significantly, such a theology of conversion derives from Christology—a specific encounter with Jesus the Christ. In The Foundations of Christian Faith, Rahner much more clearly demonstrates that the creation of a clear self-identifying boundary that is simultaneously inclusive of other religions can be rooted in Christology. Specifically, such a fluid boundary comes to be in the realization of an “existentiell Christology” (Rahner, 1978, 305–321). Here Rahner asserts that if Christianity is not to be just an “abstract and reified theory,” the ordinary Christian needs to focus on how it is practiced in one’s relationship with Jesus Christ. Hence, the


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self-understanding of Christianity is based on the sense that it is an ongoing relationship that one then attempts to live out in the world. The implications here for postcolonial theology are clear—there is a theological basis from which one comprehends one’s self, one’s relationship with others in the world. Moreover, such a theological basis allows us to comprehend other religious systems and their modes of inclusion at the boundary. The boundary defines for us the place from which we approach the other. Proposals for correcting Rahner’s anonymous Christianity through the idea of ekstasis or a spirituality of conversion are in agreement with such an interpretation.8 In my view, such an ekstasis contributes to a mysticism of identity where a deep sense of one’s self and its commitments allows for an empathic acceptance of difference. For a postcolonial theology, Rahner’s explanation of a spirituality at the boundary has a decidedly ethical turn. Inclusivity at the boundary of an existentiell Christology assumes that everyone is in relationship with God in grace. The anonymous Christian and the confessing Christian both live side by side with each other. Each position is an extreme, because Rahner prefers to see existentiell Christology as a process. “But the boundary between these two extremes is fluid” asserts Rahner, because we all are Christians only in order to become so:
It expresses the real truth and reality of Christian existence, and human experience is nothing else but a challenge to entrust oneself to the development of one’s own Christian existence in patience, openness and fidelity, and to do this slowly, and perhaps painfully and with failures, this life unfolds and develops into the experience of a personal relationship to Jesus Christ. (307)

Rahner is also anticipating many of the critiques of the problem of universalizing categories. By arguing for an anonymous Christianity, he explicitly mentions that every relationship to Christ has to have an individual and concrete cast. Such a relationship to Christ only arises in entrusting oneself in one’s concrete historicity and freedom. Even salvation and fulfillment only take place in the reality of a most “radical subjectivity.” In my reading, a radical subjectivity hearkens to those processes through which human beings claim identity—a rather postmodern turn. Among these processes is the encounter with the neighbor. The conditions of radical subjectivity demand that Christian existence can only be actualized in love of neighbor. In fact, such a love allows one to breach all those boundaries that keep us from the love

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of God. In opening oneself up to the risk of encounter with the neighbor, Christians actualize the call to discipleship, moving even beyond the universal norms proclaimed by the official Church. Ultimately, Rahner asserts, a mysticism of love, which is practiced by the community we call church is also encountered in the depths of prayer. Such a mysticism of love can exist in the anonymous Christian who, in his/her love for neighbor, practices and lives the commandment to care for the least of Jesus’ brothers and sisters. An anonymous Christian therefore is one who stands in a Christic space of love. The argument in this section is that Rahner’s anonymous Christianity can be interpreted as a strategy for the ethical inclusion of the other in one’s self-identification as a Christian. The “mysticism of love” that he emphasizes is founded on Christology that foregrounds relationship with Christ in trust and love. I suggest that for Roman Catholic postcolonial theology in India, “anonymous Christianity” provides us with a critical dimension of ethical relation. I have presented an interpretation of anonymous Christianity in view of Bhabha’s requirements for hybridity of identity as a strategy of enunciation as well as inclusion. In the face of competing religious and theological claims in societies such as India, the Rahnerian notion of anonymous Christianity has the potential to negotiate difference by demonstrating its ability to be inclusive.

Hybrid Cultural and Theological Strategies: Intercultural and Interreligious Proposals
The constructive task for a postcolonial theology of identity in the postcolonial context must deal with the flashpoint that a theology of conversion and mission presents. It must also be able to creatively draw on the vigorous theories of culture, faith, politics, and spirituality that already exist in the Indian context. As we have seen, accepting Bhabha’s analysis of conversion and mission from the colonial archives puts most Indian religious subjects in a quandary because he fails to examine the underlying religious and spiritual sources that the people may bring to the work of resistance in politics. Thus, the postcolonial Roman Catholic theologian would have to draw on contemporary theology that takes history seriously to counter the excesses of secularized theory. The problem here is not framed through a simple polemics between Bhabha and Rahner. Rather, for postcolonial theology, the issue is how to read postcolonial theory together with contemporary theology to present a politically responsible model of theological thinking regarding identity.


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If Bhabha presents some of the most daring ideas regarding identity in the postcolony, our responsibility is to evaluate his proposals in light of the already sophisticated debates on religious identity in India today. Here, Bhabha would have gained immensely by reading the history of Christian conversion in India as chronicled by Indian Christians. Conversions did happen and they demonstrated hybridity in both its integrationist as well as subversive forms. These inculturation- and liberation-oriented theologies continue to debate with distinct sophistication the relationship between identity, conversion, and mission as they evolve and adapt to continually changing power relations. Or Bhabha could examine the phenomenon of Dalit theology, which most clearly performs the hybridizing mode of enunciative interruption against global as well as domestic power (Bayly, 1989; Grafe, 1990; Webster, 1990; Downs, 1993; Wilfred, 2000). Bhabha would realize that (1) theological innovations in India proceed apace in mutually self-corrective forms, and (2) theologies of conversion in India have never strayed too far from the political issues thrown up by conversion. Indian Roman Catholic postcolonial theology however is not just speaking back to Bhabha. The debate on Christian identity, conversion, and mission is one that directly engages the Roman Catholic ecclesiastical hierarchy. Particularly in the era of globalization and fragmented identities, ecclesiastical officials have become particularly concerned with the manner in which religious identity and conversion are constructed in postcolonial contexts. Pope Benedict XVI for example has written extensively on the manner in which conversion can be spoken about in “non Christian” contexts such as India (Ratzinger, 2003). Revanchist elements in Cardinal Ratzinger’s writing seeks to regain control of those hybridizing elements. This move implicitly acknowledges the sophisticated negotiations at the boundary that are commonplace in India. In fact, in his book Cardinal Ratzinger it would seem has decided to take on the close association of politics and religion in India. Like Indian theologians, Ratzinger understands that the relationship between religion and culture is to be constructed more organically than the secular liberation-oriented theories of Europe. Hence, right away, he disavows the secular framework and says:
We should say straightaway that only in modern Europe has a concept of culture been developed that portrays it as a sphere separate from religion, or even in opposition to it. In all known historical cultures, religion is an essential element of culture, is indeed its determinative

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In such a case, the relationship between religion and culture is much closer than previously understood. Ratzinger declares that the Christian faith can only be inculturated into another culture because of “a certain inner openness, each to the other, within them; or, to put it another way, if the tendency to move toward each other and to unite is in any case a part of their nature” (Ratzinger, 2003, 59). Ratzinger hence presents a much more integrated concept of culture than Bhabha. Further, cultures have to do with perceptions and values, and form a web of relationships, not the least of these being the relationship between human beings and God. Cultures are collective repositories of wisdom and elders in the community possess this more than others and finally, every culture possesses in itself the advental capacity to receive the truth of Christianity. Ratzinger has effectively addressed the contemporary anxiety around fragmented and unstable cultural identities since he is able to articulate the essential meaningfulness of culture in the context of Christianity. In other words, his stance is quite the opposite of Bhabha’s. However, the idea that cultures have an inner logic of openness to other cultures and religious thought means that inculturation is not automatically discarded even from revanchist Roman theology. Inculturation therefore reflects the possibility of porous boundaries in cultures in which the Christian message seeks to be incarnated. Politically therefore, what Ratzinger is doing is to highlight an expectation of inclusivity of identity which goes a long way in the contemporary context of globalized identity constructions. Of course, his overly generalizing gaze on culture means that culture is relevant only to the extent that it serves the Roman Catholic Church. Inculturation in India therefore does not come away unscathed in his analysis. For Indian theologians sympathetic to official Catholic concerns, inculturation is to be understood as a means to discover the truth of Christianity in the Indian culture. Ratzinger, nevertheless, is not keen that inculturation proceed apace in India on its own—soon after he outlines the openness of other cultures to Christianity, he asserts that Christianity is its own “separate, active cultural entity” and that one cannot make an exodus into the culture of Christianity without a significant break with one’s past. In other words, conversion is not seeking the “Unknown Christ of Hinduism”—conversion in this model is asserting that Christ exists in


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Hinduism and that “Hinduism” must now change to being “Christian.” The issue here of course is the question of truth: “Jesus of Nazareth is truly the meaning of history, the Logos who has become man, the self revelation of truth itself ” (2003, 72). This truth ought to be patently obvious to all other cultures and the wisdom of these cultures (especially the wisdom of India he stresses) would be visible in the manner that they exemplify such openness. Liberation theology in Ratzinger’s analysis also fares badly. In explicitly identifying liberation theology with Marxism, Ratzinger asserts that the problem with liberation theology is that it took over the redemptive work that properly belonged to God. He argues that Marxist frameworks sought to realize the unfulfilled promises of religion through the means of a political practice resulting in one of two utterly unacceptable consequences—nihilism or absolute relativism. Less concerned in this tract with nihilism, Ratzinger quickly moves to align liberation theology and its putative problem of relativism with “the so-called pluralistic theology of religions” in which truth is relativized. In other words, his rhetorical moves in the analysis of liberation theology hearken back to the problem of method—theological solutions in India addressing social structure may lead away from the claim of Christian uniqueness. The sort of Hindu-Catholic synthesis that we saw Indian theologians do earlier is condemned for its attempts to relativize Christianity’s truth claims:
Thus it now actually seems imperative in India, even for Christian theology, to extract from its particularity the figure of Christ, regarded as Western, and to set it beside Indian redemption myths (sic) as if it were of similar status: the historical Jesus, so people now think, is actually no more uniquely the Logos than any other savior figures from History are. (2003, 122)

Revanchist elements in Roman Catholic theology put Indian theological attempts to extract the wisdom of living in a pluralistic world in an impossible position. Progressive elements in Catholic theology, which specifically constructs boundaries in such a way as to be inclusive, may become critical here. I would argue that Indian postcolonial theology has to strike out boldly and faithfully in delineating the contours of the debate on conversion in India. The first set of problems, which have to do with identity in the postcolonial and globalized sphere, indicate that conversion in India is resolutely political. It is also spiritual and theological, and this particular strand will help connect with Catholic

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theology. In the globalized context moreover, where identity is often violently negotiated, conversion in its political dimension might mean the conscious awareness of negotiation between political realities and its provisionality, which therefore makes room for the inclusion of the spiritual and theological. In this regard, secularized theories of cultural identity could borrow an insight or two from even revanchist Roman Catholic theology in the assertion that cultural identity is more often than not intertwined with the religious. Revanchist theology on the other hand needs to borrow an insight or two from cultural theories of identity such as Bhabha’s and realize that it is not just other cultures that have to demonstrate the porosity that they demand from everyone else; they have to be able to demonstrate such porosity as well. I suggest here that Rahner’s idea of the supernatural existential, while performing specific Christian functions for Rahner, also allows us to imagine porous identity boundaries such as “anonymous Christianity.” For this reason, anonymous Christianity is a response in the face of pluralism. Rooted as it is in the supernatural existential, the movement of God toward human beings in grace, the idea of the anonymous Christian is spirituality, an ekstasis into the other. If we read Rahner’s presentation of this idea in the later writing of the Foundations, it can be argued that he was identifying the anonymous Christianity as an ethical move to realize a concrete existentiell Christology. A relationship to Christ therefore is at the heart of conversion. In the context of Indian pluralism, such an idea of conversion is welcome rather than the strict emphasis on conversion of religious identity. Hence, the constructive move to negotiate between revanchist and hybridized forms of identity through inclusive progressive Catholic theology would consist first in acknowledging the possibility that the “wisdom of the elders” or the “sly civility” of the natives all belong to a culture that has known to live with pluralism for a very long time. As Asad challenged Bhabha, such wisdom of the elders is also the integrity of the culture that can be deployed to counter global or domestic forms of tyranny. Ancient Indian society lived with Judaism for more than 2,000 years, Christianity from before the time it went to Europe, and Zoroastrianism for more than 1,200 years. It was not all peaceful all the time and it was not all violently coercive all of the time either. Not all of them syncretized or hybridized even though such forms emerge in the organic involvement with other identities in daily life. Attempts to claim pure identity have also been part of this scenario in India. The problem of particularity and universality in this regard has existed dynamically and communities seeking to claim pure


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origins or possessing of the unsullied truth have been tolerated in view of a differently conceived communal amity. Truth claims are exactly what allows the Indian society to be called multireligious and multicultural. A truth claim, even an absolute truth claim, is not automatically dismissed precisely for this reason. Ratzinger will be taken seriously in India, just as seriously as the Hindu nationalist who claims that all religious identities will be tolerated in India because of Hinduism’s natural inclination to be open and hospitable. Next, secularized postcolonial theory needs to take note of how traditional societies actually managed to ground their agency. With regard to Bhabha in particular, it is interesting to remember that Bhabha never investigates the polycentric theistic world of the natives who are able to negotiate the demands of unitary power precisely through their religious worldviews. The resistance to conversion to Christianity is also because of the inconsistency perceived in the message—how theology can be adrift from history and morality for example. Here conversion may be more radically spiritual and theological—to the manner of Jesus of Nazareth. Living a life dedicated to nonviolence and love of the enemy has the prophetic power to persuade for conversion. The hybridity of identity the people thus achieve in political life is a direct offshoot of their religious life. The continuity of values and worldviews that people who live in India naturally seek leads them often to syncretic thought in religion and politics. In other words, they undeniably work with theories of transcendence in the background even in decidedly political ventures. Revanchist Roman Catholic theology seeking to direct the theological flows of hybridity and syncretism has to apply the golden rule of inclusivity to themselves. It is one thing to say that Christianity can take root in other cultures because of the openness of those cultures. It is quite another thing to demand the same openness of oneself in the manner that one is able to provide for inclusive models of relating from within the tradition. Roman Catholic theology can legitimately call for caution in the face of relativizing pluralist theology since its primary concern is preserving the integrity of its unique claim. However, it can only do so acknowledging that what construes catholic identity is less the bounded nature accorded by the boundary and much more its activity precisely at the boundary. Inclusivity therefore must mark Roman Catholic theology as well. Rahner has shown us the way forward in a manner at once bold in its innovative sweep and faithful in its grasp of the integrity of Catholicism. Conversion in this regard may have much to do with the selfperception of Christian identity within Roman Catholic theology.

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Hence, those attempts within Roman Catholic theology that help address the anthropological poverty facing postcolonial depictions of what it means to be human and those attempts that make a sincere effort to acknowledge Indian theological integrity will allow for methodologically syncretic conceptions of conversion. Revanchist theology, hence, cannot seek to control all of these attempts. In conclusion, Roman Catholic postcolonial theology in India on conversion will continue to grapple with the problems of identity and seek to expand the inherent inclusivity present in the Christian message through a spirituality rooted in the call of Christ to love the neighbor. Both Rome and the academy will fail to grasp the practical wisdom of this move if they adhere to narrowly conceived views of identity. Both will be able to create mechanisms for capacious imaginings of identity if they heed the integrity of a human community that dares to call itself multireligious and multicultural.

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Chapter 3

Embodied Ethics in the Postcolony

We are talking about using the strongest mobilizing discourse in the world in a certain way, for the globe, not merely for fourth world uplift. I say this again because it is so easy to dismiss this as quixotic moralism. This learning can only be attempted through the supplementation of collective effort by love. What deserves the name of love is an effort—over which one has no control yet at which one must not strain—which is slow, attentive to both sides—how does one win the attention of the subaltern without coercion or crisis—mindchanging on both sides, at the possibility of an unascertainable ethical singularity that has not ever a sustainable condition. The necessary collective efforts are to change laws, relations of production, systems of education and health care. But without the mind-changing one-on-one responsible contact, nothing will stick. —Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, emphasis added.

other way to guarantee justice for the gendered subaltern.1 However, in order to arrive at “love,” ethical agendas and liberation philosophies or theologies need to critically examine their lack of attention to feminist interests. Feminist concerns in postcolonial theory also challenge academic postcolonial theory for its refusal to acknowledge the unique problems women face in the postcolonial context. Frantz Fanon and Edward Said analyze the colonial context with little awareness of the issues facing women. Bhabha for example, considers feminism to construct impermeable boundaries in its presentation of agency for women (Bhabha, 1994, 1) and prefers to present hybridity of identity

“Love” is at the heart of embodied postcolonial ethics. There is no


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as the more successful strategy to account for postcolonial agency and postcolonial critique of power. Anticolonial political writing therefore seems to marginalize specifically feminist political writing. Nevertheless, feminist postcolonial writing is concerned with challenging and making visible a coherent critique addressed to the patriarchal basis of academic postcolonial theory, Western critical theory, domestic nationalism, global imperialism as well as Western feminist theory. In his later work, Edward Said is said to have recognized the significance of feminist critiques of anticolonial political writing and argued that all liberatory movements against imperialism of any kind had to be aligned in service of anticolonial activity (see Gandhi, 1998, 82). Feminist postcolonial theory is also concerned with its own location, specifically, its place in the first-world academy. The arrival of the third-world female subject in one of the most Eurocentric and late-capitalist logic-saturated entities of the first world, that is, the Western academy, has been met with deep ambivalence by the institutions as well as by the newly admitted third-world female subject. Following the popular multicultural logics of the 1980s and the 1990s, Euro-American academies began to allow (highly uneven, commodified) access to their institutions creating the thoroughly discomfiting conditions for the critique of such activities. Postcolonial feminist theory on the other hand, is a development by such third-world feminist critics who are aware that their practice is a criticism of a “home,” a location, and a condition that they “cannot not want” (Spivak, 1996, 28). As the critique of a critique, feminist postcolonial theory incisively appraises anticolonial, antihegemonic critical theory produced in the academy for its exclusions. Feminist postcolonial theory therefore performs the disarticulation of critical theory and retains an oppositional role with regard to postcolonial and other liberation-oriented or contextual theories. Postcolonial theology in its constructive phase, consequently, would necessarily need to consider how feminist postcolonial concerns could help advance a specifically theological agenda for identity, ethics, and nonviolent polity. Not only does postcolonial theology have to be concerned with the issues of exclusion that Spivak (among others) identifies; it would have to question Spivak’s theory for possible sources of agency and critique that are either dismissed by her or are simply invisible in her analysis. This move therefore presents a disarticulation of Spivak’s Western, academic, and secular stance similar to the move that we saw in chapter 2. In this chapter, both these requirements are addressed in a conversation with Catholic theology, primarily through a conversation with Karl Rahner’s existential ethics.

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Can the reinterpretation of hybridity from the perspective of postcolonial theology as presented in the last chapter enable us to bridge the gender divide as it did the divide of different religious identity? Unfortunately, such is not the case. Hybridity, as was argued in the previous chapter, is definitely of use as a rhetorical tool in the service of liberation. However, Bhabha’s insistence that the category of hybridity of identity is an ever-inclusive term, thus disavowing feminist postcolonial theory, presents postcolonial theological thinking with a paradox. On onehand, his idea of negotiated relations, as a way to strategize for more inclusivity, definitely can be creatively retrieved for a theological agenda as was shown in chapter 2. However, “hybridity” is also of little value in postcolonial theology if it is construed as potentially erasing important gender and class differences, when the specific concern of postcolonial theology has been identified as the ability to think through religious, cultural, racial, economic, political, and gendered difference. As such therefore, this chapter, in its emphasis on a presenting a constructive (disarticulating) postcolonial theology for ethical action will seem contentious to Westernized, academic, secular postcolonial theory as well as to theology that seeks to think ethically without adequate attention to gendered difference. To further nuance the aim of this chapter, I argue that the dialogue between Spivak and Rahner will not produce any definitive agenda for ethical behavior in the postcolony. Instead, postcolonial theological thought presents challenges to the mode ethics is performed. It is a truism now after Iris Marion Young’s critique of the “conscious, deliberate and rational weighing of choices” (Young, 1990, 149) that individualized ethics simply obscure the political investments that are much more important to political ethics. Neither is ethical analysis limited simply to the critique of the manner in which impersonal institutions such as the government guarantee democratic participation. Feminist postcolonial ethics, in its resolute commitment to concerted political action by and for the gendered subaltern, seeks to secure spaces for speech and action for intervention and transformation by the gendered subaltern herself. The activity of feminist postcolonial ethics is therefore double pronged—it seeks to raise awareness of the silenced and muted voice of the gendered subaltern and also seeks to constitute agency through her interventionist strategies. Race, power, culture, and empire become important categories that must be addressed in relation to the ethical subject of postcolonial theology. The strategy for ethical redress in this context tackles the manner in which discursive spaces are created and sustained for the silenced voices of women in the postcolonial context to be heard.


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Through Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak’s disarticulating feminist postcolonial analysis, we are able to provide for redress in three distinct ways: first, colonial and neocolonial practices are examined for their gendered standpoints, while simultaneously examining feminism for its racializing stance (see Gandhi, 1998, 83). In other words, the problematic figure of the third-world woman maintains an oppositional stance to gendered colonial and nationalistic strategies as well as to liberal programs of inclusion that categorize her as “oppressed, veiled, abused and uneducated.” The second important disarticulation that Spivak performs is to rethink whiteness. Specifically, Spivak is an unrelenting critic of white privilege, especially of white feminist privilege. Spivak alerts us to a particular danger of Western feminism and its articulation of agency as feminist individualism. Postcolonial theology subsequently cannot elevate feminist individual ethical action as the goal of postcolonial theological ethics. Finally, rescue attempts that act in the name of global feminism cannot be performed by anyone who is committed to either imperializing or nationalist masculinist ethics. Spivak articulates her hope of a “one-on-one-mind changing contact in love” as the mode of ethics to counter the three issues of concern to the postcolonial feminist theorist. Only a concerted and cooperative effort on the part of those committed to justice around the globe (and not just the putative third world) can help secure the space of speech and action by the gendered subaltern. “Love” is also surfacing in magisterial Roman Catholic theology presently. Pope Benedict XVI has recently presented his first encyclical on Love in which he presents a rapprochement between Eros and Agape (January 25, 2006). The program to which “love” is put to here is quite different from the aims of feminist postcolonial theory. In my view, the Pope is strategically addressing the dichotomy between Eros and Agape as the malaise of an ecclesiology that devalues intimate human relationships. Significantly, in the attempt to rectify the problem, the Pope reinscribes the Church’s focus on marriage and family as the sites where the dichotomy can be healed. The emphasis on the spousal metaphor to bear the weight of “Love” is rooted in the tradition of the Catholic Church. Against the commodification of sex and intimate relationships in popular Western and Westernized culture, the Pope’s call for faith and commitment has significant prophetic power. However, as Phyllis Zagano points out, his analysis depends on a revisionist reading of Acts 6, which deliberately ignores the agency of women in the Church’s history (Zagano, 2006, 72–77). The call to root ethical action in the embodied response as Eros or “love as desire” is appealing to postcolonial thought in general.

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However, Eros in the service of masculinist ethics to shore up ecclesiastical institutions or masculinist theology will remain unusable by postcolonial theology. “Love” in the postcolonial context is resolutely in service of changing systems that continue to extract terrible costs from gendered subalterns. Conversely, that proposal for love will not be amenable to dogmatic Catholic theology. Hence, postcolonial feminist theology will maintain an oppositional stance in face of ethical concerns that do not take into especial consideration the experience of women under colonizing conditions. In order to counter the manner in which the call to faith and commitment presumes a normative heterosexist paradigm undergirded by gendered difference, postcolonial feminist theology will seek to provide more inclusive and heterogeneous sites for faith and commitment. It will also suggest the space for the development of mysticism of personal love— for other and for God—as the modality in which love will enable deep personal and systemic change in the postcolonial context. “Love” in Spivak’s presentation has to do with conversion to the other and the cultivation of empathy for the unique circumstances that lead to systemic exclusion. It also requires a personal conversion that disowns power and privilege. In this way, Spivak tries to counter the hegemonizing tendencies of both colonial discourse and postcolonial theories such as hybridity with her more concrete idea of “one-on-one ethical relation in love” (Spivak, 1999, 383). She advocates the standpoint of “strategic essentialism” to provide a balance to ideas such as Bhabha’s hybridity of identity, so that embodiedness in encounter can be preserved. Strategic essentialism on the one hand criticizes the essentialist categories of human identity, but also advances the possibility of its deployment in view of the use to which these categories are put in social, cultural, and political interactions. The theoretical underpinnings of the notion of strategic essentialism is balanced by Spivak’s insistence that only in an embodied and loving response can the gendered subaltern interrupt the self-authorizing talk of Western feminist theory and its violent exclusions. It is true that Spivak starts with a critique of Western feminist theory. However, her awareness of the intersecting axes of oppression through colonial, imperialist, hegemonizing, capitalist, and patriarchal systems allows her to perform a global critique through her specific lens. She arrives at her proposals through a critical reading of the work of French Feminists, notably Julia Kristeva and Luce Irigaray. In shifting the agenda from the French Feminist preoccupation with gender essentialism, Spivak focuses on the difference between women in the third world and women in the first world. Strategic essentialism therefore is


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the antidote to the “problem” of the third- world woman, the unacknowledged privilege of whiteness by white feminists, and the only way in which the gendered subaltern can secure a place and voice for intervention. In contrast to modern catholic theology’s masculinist universalizing, postcolonial feminist theology will seek to emphasize the discontinuous and heterogeneous effects of “Love.” Spivak presents the mindchanging one-on-one relation in love as a space that introduces the “secret” of relationality as well (Spivak, 1999, 384). This space of secret, of ineffable excess (or mystery?), is the space into which postcolonial theology must step. Such a suggestive space for mystery in the concrete proposals as presented in Spivak makes room for a constructive, disarticulating presentation of Love as mysticism, a move that will be explicitly resisted by Spivak but presented as a possibility by feminist postcolonial theological imagination. Spivak’s introduction of the idea of secret or excess is disarticulated by postcolonial feminist theology as “mystery” which consequently allows us to imagine a mysticism that arises in ethical encounter. It is the possibility of mystical practice in love, an incarnational motif as we shall see, that provides the grounds for a conversation with a theologian such as Karl Rahner. “Love” in Spivak has a much more concrete aspect to it than in Rahner, but Rahner presents a stronger theological grounding for love. Nevertheless, postcolonial feminist theology is not about adding one to the other. The interdisciplinary terrain that postcolonial feminist theologians must traverse requires us to engage in a complex dialogue that simultaneously interweaves and unravels. Hence, even as we engage Rahner in dialogue, we remain critical of his formulation of the Fundamental Option as the concrete expression of love, which allows him to remain mired in abstractions that ignore the empirical dimensions in which such a gesture must be enacted. The guiding intuition of this chapter therefore is that the catachrestic reading of Spivak and Rahner will allow for a space of ethical spirituality, for Spivak and Rahner err in opposing directions. In the final section of this chapter, we pick up the thread offered by the Pope again to sharpen the definition of what it means to say that Love is at the heart of postcolonial feminist ethics. The chapter is primarily a comparison between Spivak and Rahner. It will point to significant differences between the two thinkers. Spivak’s idea of strategic essentialism which grounds her call to ethics as a one-on-one-relation-in-love is a specific and concrete move for gendered and minoritized groups whose embodied responses have interventionist and interruptive strategic functions. However, her

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hesitancy to work out the specifically theological issues with regard to her incarnational motif allows room for a postcolonial theological imagination to develop a specifically postcolonial theological ethics. With regard to Rahner, on the positive side, it will be argued that the idea of the Fundamental Option (the free choice for God and the eternal, an “existential commitment”), which grounds Rahner’s argument for an existential ethics, provides a sympathetic lens for articulating a contemporary postcolonial theological ethics. On the negative side, as will be shown, Rahner’s anthropological essentialism, which grounds his development of the Fundamental Option, does not draw out the limitations of such a formulation in the specifically agonistic space of colonial and postcolonial gendered relations. Here Rahner’s call to love can be interpreted more as “benevolence.” In order to avoid the interpretation of love as “benevolence,” in Rahner, it will be argued, that Spivak’s maneuver of undergirding alterity as the basis for love is the more concrete expression of “love” in the postcolonial context. Her critique of postcolonial ethical relation in A Critique of Postcolonial Reason (1999) will serve as a significant text to dialogue with Rahner. Certain of her other works are also referred to in passing because Spivak is not only by far the more prolific scholar in contemporary postcolonial theory, she is also more reflective of her own work and seeks constantly to repristinate her insights which can be observed in her constant clarifications of her writing. Spivak’s book is a criticism of the manner in which the “native informant” has been deployed by both colonial as well as postcolonial texts. In other words, she performs both a critique of current postcolonial theory and also a critique of more obviously exclusionary colonial materials. Her main concern here, as with Bhabha, is to present an ethics of alterity without resorting to a politics of identity. She situates such an ethics of alterity “in the subjunctive, in the right/responsibility of loving”(Spivak, 1991, Preface) that preserves the postcolonial subject’s agency in the present as opposed to her identity in colonial and contemporary postcolonial literature as victim. The best way in which to secure such an agency for the postcolonial subject is to articulate an ethics of alterity within the context of embodied encounter. Postcolonial reason, which eschews the idea of embodied encounter, is critically examined in her book to expose the structures of production in which such literature is situated. In her view, such an examination leads to an acknowledgment of complicity in the manner in which postcolonial reason colludes with superpowers. As such, Spivak is different from Bhabha in that she is far more critical of the manner in which postcolonial reason and rationality is unfolding.


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Precisely because she highlights the significance of embodied encounter, Spivak is vital to a postcolonial theology in that she brings the concerns of women to the fore and also in that she opens up new possibilities for theology in a primarily theoretical and secular space. To perform a critique of critical theories, Spivak points out how mainstream philosophy and criticism neatly ignores the absence of the gendered subaltern. Even when the gendered subaltern is cautiously invited to participate in the mainstream, her activities paradoxically are truncated and excised so as not to muddy the mainstream (Spivak, 1999, 2). Here she maintains that in order to be productively engaged in the acknowledgment of complicity in the colonial relation we need to look at the conscious foreclosure of the native informant in philosophy as a mark of the possibility of ethical relation to the colonized and colonizing others. She writes: “I think of the ‘native informant’ as a name for that mark of expulsion from the name of Man—a mark crossing out the impossibility of ethical relation” (Spivak, 1999, 6). In other words, the very exclusions that strategically dispense with the native informant signal the radical need for the ethical turn. Such a turn is mandated by not just the obvious “Orientalist” ways in which the native informant is deployed for specific purposes (as Edward Said, among others, has so ably demonstrated) but it is mandated also by the manner in which postcolonial theory in its current manifestations ignores the very figure of the “subject” they are including. Mere visibility of these subjects still manages to keep them silent, in her view. What is required is a radical approach to ensure participation and justice for them. In so doing, she is providing for a tentative model of global dialogue that redefines subjectivity as reciprocity rather than resented domination. It is also important that since Spivak escapes description as a critical Marxist materialist feminist, she may be more relevant to feminist theological work to be done, in India for example. Her view that sexual and gendered difference, and not sexual or gendered equality, will lead to the overcoming of the patriarchal oppression of women may have more value in the postcolonial culture of systematic exclusions of women as women. As such she presents an agenda that is in complete contrast to Rahner’s. However, her concerns are critical to any discussion of freedom and agency in the postcolonial context primarily because she articulates an agenda for postcolonial feminists who are invested in securing agency for women and also because she represents the opposite pole to Homi Bhabha’s theory of hybridity of identity. In her advocacy of strategic essentialism, which is the positioning of women as women within structures that have power over them, she

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presents a different strand from that of Bhabha’s theory of negotiated identity. Strategic Essentialism leads to a negotiation of ethics rather than identity in the postcolonial context. While the gendered subaltern may perform ethical behavior in the manner that Spivak hopes, a postcolonial theological imagination asks whether a religious commitment could enhance the stratagem for ethics in the postcolony. In the constructive phase of this chapter, such a vision is outlined in the conversation between Spivak, Rahner, and the Pope’s call to love as the basis for ethical action. Given the political obligation of the outcome of the conversation, no comparative convergence will emerge there. Instead, the focus will stringently evaluate whether the gendered subaltern’s ability to interrupt hegemonic prescriptions for her actions has been secured.

Ethics in the Postcolony
We begin with Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak’s emphasis on love as “one-on-one-ethical-encounter” as normative for postcolonial feminist ethics. Such an encounter is not possible without the strategic deployment of identity. In recalling the argument of the previous chapter in this regard, such a strategic presentation of identity was argued to be the basis of religious and cultural inclusivity in the postcolonial context. According to Spivak, the gendered subaltern is silenced when even the most benign of gestures tend to either represent her or speak on her behalf. In response, the gendered subaltern can only interrupt the self-authorizing and self-legitimizing talk of first world benevolent feminists with an embodied gesture that creates a space for her agency. In terms of the mechanics of discursive power, Spivak points out that the “worlding”2 of texts lead to Western feminist projects that cannibalize texts from “other” parts of the world. To counter such inscription of limit and value for the gendered subaltern, strategic essentialism functions as an intervention initiated by the gendered subaltern on her own behalf. In attempting to read Spivak’s suggestions catachrestically for postcolonial theology, I anticipate a strong reaction from Marxist materialist feminist critics who would both (a) have me dissociate from Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak’s brand of (French) feminism which has been extensively censured for both its perceived lack of providing a thorough critique of global capitalism as well as because it insists on the problematic foundation of sexual difference resulting in the strategic use of essential identity categories and (b) have me dissociate completely from Rahner’s Western and Eurocentric context in order


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to proceed with a postcolonial theology. Furthermore, I would imagine a strong objection from Spivak herself who declares that her agenda for ethics can have nothing to do with Christian liberation theology. To the first set of objections, I urge the critics to consider that Spivak’s irenic allusions have much to commend theological ethics in the postcolonial context where it is precisely the difference of women that is the basis of horrible discrimination. Spivak therefore is not advocating some romantic essentialist view of “woman” or “feminine identity,” but she is seeking assiduously to root agency within sexual difference. Such a strategic move is critical to postcolonial societies, where “woman” is simply subsumed under “man.” The dimension of Eurocentricism in Spivak’s thought may seem justified to some, even though in my reading Spivak is trenchantly critical of overtly Eurocentric positions that consolidate power for global capitalism. Spivak is not simply “borrowing” the framework of French feminism; she is engaging with it in a dialogical mode that has important methodological consequences for postcolonial theory and theology. To the second issue I reply that the postcolonial ethical space while being an agonistic space is also a space in which the European colonizing other is not simply understood as a dominator (for that would ignore the colonies and their complicity in the process of colonization). Into this space, the “subaltern” and the “gendered subaltern” will emerge as subjects of reciprocity and not simply subjects of a resented domination. To Spivak’s own reluctance to foray into Christian theology I answer that it is indeed possible to have an autonomous ethics in the context of faith. Most certainly it introduces elements into her framework that may be alien to her. Nevertheless, a catachrestic reading of Spivak herself depends on attempting to hear what her text is not willing to say. For Spivak, the most silent and invisible presence in any critical discourse is that of the “gendered subaltern” or the third-world poor woman. However, in her application of the deconstructive mode, Spivak decries the idea of any essential identity called “woman,” indicating that it exists only in its relationship to the word “man” which further is not a problem about essences, but a problem of reading (Spivak, 1993,: 6). Specifically, the problem is one of analyzing how the subalterns are represented in colonial, anticolonial and postcolonial discourse and to what degree they are allowed to participate and transform the frameworks that work toward their exclusion. When the gendered subaltern is represented, albeit benevolently by intellectuals who speak on behalf of them, what transpires is the effective silencing of the women. Further, the elision by most theorists of the political,

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social, economic, and structural conditions, which impinge on the lives of gendered subalterns, reveals their assumption that subalterns in general can effect changes simply by seeking representation. For postcolonial feminist theology therefore, representing the gendered subaltern will not address the core problems of systemic exclusions unless there is an intentional space for the gendered subaltern to speak for herself. These were the key ideas in Spivak’s most influential essay called “Can the Subaltern Speak?” (Spivak, 1985, 1988; rewritten in 1999). The “leftist intellectuals” (in the earlier essay) or, “hegemonic radicals” (in the later rewriting) as she refers to them (Foucault, Deleuze) show their hand—namely, their positions of power—in the act of representing the subalterns. The thinkers happily perform a “ventriloquism” of the speaking subaltern, completely unaware that their theory production is normed by practices of exclusion (Spivak, 1999, 255). She writes:
An important point is being made here: the production of theory is also a practice; the opposition between abstract “pure” theory and concrete “applied” practice is too quick and easy. But Deleuze’s articulation of the argument is problematic. Two senses of representation are being run together: representation as “speaking for” [vertreten] as in politics and representation as “re-presentation” [darstellen] as in art or philosophy. Since theory is also only “action,” the theoretician does not represent (speak for) the oppressed group. (Spivak, 1999, 256)

Even as Foucault and Deleuze avoid speaking for the subalterns, they “represent” the subalterns as those engaged in struggle, thus conflating or making continuous the two moments of vertreten and darstellen. Further, in presenting the subalterns as engaged in struggle, Foucault and Deleuze construct them as “politically canny” subjects just like them in political desire and interests. Hence, the intellectuals fail to question how exactly the “Subject” is constituted. They do not question their own subject positions of desire and power, and imagine that the oppressed Subject is or wants to be just like them. The above is a form of epistemic violence—wanting to perform a rescue mission for faraway places and people. In even deeper shadow is the plight of the female laborer exploited under the conditions of liberal capitalism. Stephen Morton mentions that Spivak uses the phrase: “international division of labor” instead of Marx’s division of labor between worker and capitalist to indicate the new economic arrangement whereby women in the third world are “superexploited”


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(Morton, 2003, 91). Thus easy alliances with global anticapitalist measures seeking to alleviate the symptoms of exploitation of female labor are only going to reinforce the hiddenness of the gendered subaltern. Of particular interest to Spivak is Western feminism, which fails to perform ethical thinking in relation to the superexploited women of the third world. “Feminism,” the project for, by, and of women, fares ill when Western feminists seek to speak on behalf of “oppressed” women from different parts of the world, use their knowledge and experience to bolster their own bourgeois identity and career paths, and plunder the third-world women’s cultural riches in order to participate in the book trade. This criticism of attempted rescue raises her ire constantly. She writes in a footnote in The Critique of Postcolonial Reason:
After I spoke of the destruction of a centuries-old ecological culture in Bangladesh through the transformation of common property and the substitution of learning by information command and the subsequent transformation of the country into the raw material for maps of investment, Andrew Steer, deputy director of the Department of Environment at the World Bank, remarked that I had been giving a “sermon” . . . UN conferences provide alibis for derailing these efforts in the interest of capital rather than the social in the name of an ethics about the achievement of which they know little. The worst offenders precisely because they dare to witness, are so-called U.S. feminists whose “activism” is merely organizing these conferences with a ferocious leadership complex and an insatiable hunger for publicity. I use these violent adjectives advisedly, to warn against every achievement-of-solidarity claim coming from these quarters . . . (Spivak, 1999, 383–384)

The false pretense of universal solidarity is identified by her as the worst possible way of relating to the gendered subaltern. In another footnote on page 268, Spivak points out that the colonial ledgers that perform the saving act for Indian women become the primary source for French feminists and their research. She points to her earlier analysis of the French feminist Julia Kristeva’s analysis of Chinese women and attacks the benevolence that underlies much of Western feminist scholarship with regard to the “so-called-Third-World-women” (Spivak, 1988, 134–153). She writes:
How, then, can one learn from and speak to the millions of illiterate rural and urban Indian women who live in “the pores of capitalism,” inaccessible to the capitalist dynamics that allow us our shared channels of communication, the definition of common enemies? The pioneering

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books that bring First World feminists news from the Third World are written by privileged informants and can only be deciphered by a trained readership . . . This is not the tired nationalist claim that only a native can know the scene. The point that I am trying to make is that, in order to learn enough about Third World women and to develop a different readership, the immense heterogeneity of the field must be appreciated, and the First World feminist must learn to stop feeling privileged as a woman. (Spivak, 1987, 137, original emphasis)

Spivak castigates Kristeva’s methodological exclusion of “archival evidence” (1987, 137), which transforms Kristeva’s speculation into historical fact (for Kristeva). For example, when Kristeva wishes to valorize the women of the countryside over the women in the cities, she celebrates them as products of a matrilineal family system and when she wishes to rescue them she characterizes them as people who are “thrust from a patriarchal world which hasn’t moved for millennia.” Spivak calls this the “wishful” (138) use of history, which simply reflects a broader Western cultural practice in which the “classical” East is studied with reverence, even as the contemporary East is treated with contempt. Such contempt is the direct result of a disabling benevolence on the part of the West. To counter and mitigate the effects of Orientalist feminism, Spivak calls for “discontinuity, heterogeneity and typology” (1987, 153). By discontinuity is meant the fact that feminist endeavors in the West are not extended to change sexist institutional structures on the behalf of women in the third world. Spivak says:
. . . let me insist that here, the difference between “French” and “Anglo-American” feminism is superficial. However unfeasible and inefficient it may sound, I see no way to avoid insisting that there has to be a simultaneous other focus: not merely who am I? But who is the other woman? How am I naming her? How does she name me? (1987, 150)

In other words, rather than rescue missions in the name of “love” and “solidarity,” what Spivak wants is a dialogue between the two groups of women. In addition and critically, she also addresses the willed ignorance and the willing complicity of colonized women in their “new” oppression. For the colonized woman, Spivak has this task:
Indeed it is the absence of such unfeasible but crucial questions that makes the “colonized woman” as “subject” see the investigators as sweet and sympathetic creatures from another planet who are free to come and go; or, depending on her socialization in the colonizing


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cultures, see “feminism” as vanguardist class fix, the liberties it fights for as luxuries, finally identifiable with “free sex” of one kind or another. Wrong of course. My point has been that there is something equally wrong in our most sophisticated research, our most benevolent impulses. (1987, 150)

Complicity with imperializing agendas by third-world women in the name of love is the first thing that must be addressed. Women in third world countries need to stop being fodder for the “international book trade” and begin to speak of their complexity for themselves. These women need to perform interruptions of both benevolent and malignant uses of their complex life-worlds especially by Western academic aggrandization. This leads to the idea of heterogeneity. Heterogeneity has been explained as the call to understand that the subject positions of women anywhere cannot be encapsulated in any one descriptive term. It is present in the context of asymmetrical power relations, when one lacks the capacity to represent oneself. Spivak frames this particular dimension of her argument in terms of women’s pleasure. French feminists, she says, present feminism as a “double effort” against sexism and for feminism. The French feminist emphasis on clitoral pleasure arises out of the understanding that a hetero-normative model of reproduction organizes gender relations. Spivak counters however that even as we acknowledge the “excess of the clitoris,” we cannot escape the symmetry of reproductive definition: it is ultimately self-defeating for feminism to merely repudiate “uterine social organization” which Spivak defines as “the arrangement of the world in terms of the reproduction of future generations, where the uterus is the chief agent and means of production” (1987, 152). Rather, argues Spivak, feminism cannot simply expect reproductive liberation to be replaced by clitoral pleasure and must seek to examine uterine social organization which is effected in part through the systematic effacement of the clitoral through the reinscription of reproductive logics. In other words, what Spivak is arguing for here is that feminists need to analyze the restrictive role scripted for women anew by capitalism, that is, “how encompassingly the uterine norm of womanhood supports the phallic norm of capitalism” (153). Woman, in capitalist logic simply shores up patriarchal social arrangements and institutions. Thus, the issue of gendered difference allows for a heterogeneous site of investigation of asymmetrical gender and sexual relations. Lastly, one brings to the table a comprehension of typology in feminism. By typology is meant the many ways by which feminism in its different types codes the idea of “Woman.” Each of the different

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codes for “Woman,” used by the different types of feminism, when carefully acknowledging heterogeneity, discontinuity, and typology can promote a sense of a common history of oppression that is simultaneously specific in its expression (1987, 150). She acknowledges that such a consciousness brought to bear on feminism does not necessarily remove its inbuilt colonialism and the problems of race and class as she demonstrates with regard to the false attempts by first-world feminists to rescue third-world women. If Spivak detests Kristeva’s mode of representing third-world women, she is unstinting in her praise for Luce Irigaray’s feminist politics where she notes sexual difference providing for positive political effect. Thus, in a much later (by ten years) essay, she is more ready to state that there can be a more concrete exchange between metropolitan and decolonized feminisms because of what one can learn from Irigaray (Spivak, 1993, 141–171). Refuting the appellation of Irigaray of being an “essentialist,” Spivak maintains that such allegations ignore “the aggressive role of rhetoricity” in Irigaray’s writing (163). Ignoring this rhetoricity has the unfortunate goal of missing the fact that Irigaray defines herself as a critic within the enclosure of Western metaphysics. Thus, Spivak understands Irigaray as not tackling the explicit arguments of the philosopher but as focusing on the sexual subtext. As does Irigaray, Spivak wants to assume the feminine role deliberately, a strategy of mimesis. As part of the strategy of strategic essentialism, the mimetic response of the feminine will hark at what remains “unavoidably” other (170). Woman therefore initiates the “fecund caress” as the ground of an ethics based in sexual difference. As Spivak explains, Irigaray’s politics, without being separatist is based on sexual difference, which is presented as “unknowable,” meaning that sexual difference cannot be located naïvely in a decisive biological fact. Sexual difference provides the limit in Irigaray, according to Spivak, to ethics in which the unknowable other is held in its unknowable alterity (1993, 165). In the “fecundity of the caress,” for example, Spivak points out that Irigaray uses hands to shape otherness. Hands caress what is impossibly other.3 Love maintains the separateness of bodies, while being porous to the one who is other. Thus is born, Spivak maintains, a possibility of two distinct spaces, ununiversalizable with each other. The necessary tactility of the fecund caress is one that cannot touch itself and needs the other in order to be touched. As Spivak says: “The scene of the caress is in fact porous to the (im)possibility of ethics”(168). The embodied caress is the only possible ethical response that is able to retain distinct difference while bridging difference. Spivak calls this “Christian talk, of


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incarnation.” But she warns (Irigaray herself asserts this) that Irigaray’s agenda will not work unless the woman can also initiate and thus become the “fecund agent” of the caress. In this manner woman violates the historical narrative into which she is written (169). The caress can also bridge the separations of race and class through which the establishment of two universals does not lead to sloppy relativism. In this way, too, “woman” becomes the sovereign agent of resistance. It is through such a strategy that the mind is decolonized, states Spivak: “only through a negotiation with the structures of violence.” (171) And amongst all this, declares Spivak, is the hardest lesson of all: “the impossible intimacy of the ethical.” To recapitulate, how does Spivak see the gendered subaltern attempting to speak? The gendered subaltern can never be represented and may indeed never be able to represent even herself. In that manner, she does not speak. However, if one seeks to represent socalled oppressed subjectivities, Spivak is insistent that space be made for the heterogeneous, discontinuous, and interruptive nature of the gendered subaltern’s action. Since such a program is not easily captured in discourse, the gendered subaltern can only be shown to be performing a strategy of female identity in discourse. To do so is not to assert problematically any pure female identity; to do so is to assert the fact of difference. It is essentially a nonviolent gesture, aimed at asserting the presence of both self and other, an incarnational mode of relating ethically. For Spivak this is the only way that the gendered subaltern can speak in conditions that she can be heard. Any other agenda, exclusivist or ostensibly inclusivist, performs epistemological violence. Since the gendered subaltern initiates the caress of difference in love, each act of ethical relation performed by her is an ethical singularity undertaken in freedom and responsibility. The subjectivity of the gendered subaltern as Spivak understands it can only be captured in her difference as woman because it is as woman she initiates the caress of difference. In so doing, women deploy the fact of sexual difference as a strategy to counter both the benevolent (mis)representations of them by historians such as Kristeva and also help to ground agency for such women as they survive as women in domestic patriarchal contexts. Spivak further, presents a firmly political agenda in her formulations of cultural identity. In complete contrast to postmodern formulations, identity is not the privileged site of agency. She is more invested in charting the complex phenomenon that organizes territorial spaces today—modern capitalist formations and the modernizing nationstate. Unequal power flows that further constrict the voice of the

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gendered subaltern, in her view, perform one of the most insidious silencing moves today. Critical Marxist feminists should take heart from this primary move in Spivak. Consider for example, this passage from The Critique of Postcolonial Reason:
My historical caveat is, in sum, that feminism within the social relations and institutions of the metropolis has something like a relationship with the fight for individualism in the upwardly class-mobile bourgeois cultural politics of the European nineteenth century. Thus, even as we feminist critics discover the troping error of the masculinist truth-claim to universality or academic objectivity, we perform the lie of constituting a truth of global sisterhood where the mesmerizing model remains male and female sparring partners of generalizable or universalizable sexuality who are the chief protagonists in that European contest. In order to claim sexual difference where it makes a difference, global sisterhood must receive this articulation even if the sisters in question are Asian, African and Arab. Or so some of us had thought. In today’s atmosphere of triumphalist globalization, where the old slogan of “Women in Development” has been blithely changed into “Gender and Development,” and a hard-hatted white woman points the way to a smiling Arab woman in ethnic dress upon a World Bank publicity pamphlet, such utopianism is consigned to the future anterior. (1999, 147–148)

Spivak’s problem with liberal (white) feminism is crystal clear here. If feminists take their goal to be the liberal (and liberated, free) individual of bourgeois Western Europe, what we will ignore are the very real race and class issues that constitute the very relationship between women from first- and third-world countries and which quite effectively keeps in place the very real inequalities between men and women in different parts of the world. Race and class thus have a doubling effect on third-world women. The utopian and impossible moment of equality is relegated to the regretful “should have, could have and would have,” ignoring completely the primacy of the present which requires immediate dismantling of class and race barriers. The present moment requires attention to be paid immediately to race and class positions, for denying these positions prematurely ignores the context-specific ethics that must arise through concrete encounter. Spivak is a stern critic of the material effects and political significance of such alliances. Spivak’s broad understanding of cultural identity can be presented thus: that we are all born into a particular cultural legacy which then becomes the responsibility of each person to transform and vivify through their own creative work and social praxis. Spivak can be said to be engaging in the urgent problem of


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salvaging regional cultural formulations in light of Western imposed conditions for economic and political growth. In her contrasting and contradictory stance to Bhabha’s idea of hybridity she is also pointing to the fact that securing agency and freedom for the postcolonial subject (especially if the subject is a woman), is an ongoing process. In Spivak it is not cultural encounter that is significant; it is the ethical processual one. For Spivak, privileged cultural identity is highly suspect. The method of deconstruction, for her, is precisely used against such “privileged identity” where someone is believed to have all the truth. Deconstruction, understood in this way, is the method of intentionally divesting oneself of the “blindness of truth-telling,” investigating fearlessly the strategic exclusions whereby “truth” is shored up and identifying complicity rather than belligerently focusing on oppositionality. It is to critique constantly and persistently “what one cannot not want.” It looks at how truth is produced. Here she means to say that there is no utopian place out there where one can exist apart from the exigencies of life and its complexity. Critiquing the manner in which truth is produced only helps us get a handle on the fact that we are all implicated in the very structures of our critique. Spivak’s use of deconstruction4 is mainly “to open up the personalist belief in identity-as-origin not by denying experience, but by insisting upon the need to examine the processes whereby we naturalize personal experience and desire into general truth” (Landry and McClean, 1996, 10). Bart Moore-Gilbert mentions (1997, 87) in this regard that Spivak appropriates Derrida’s conception of the decentred subject, to prevent the postcolonial struggle from lapsing into a fundamentalist politics. Thus for Spivak, he says, the self is understood not as something that is innate or given but as constructed discursively, inevitably decentred, and not fixed in any essentialist conception of origin or belonging. Thus, identity, when strategically employed, does not focus on any pure and originary group affiliation but is the “provisional” (Spivak, 1998, 147) ground and point of departure from which we must begin to speak. The concept of strategic essentialism therefore, is shot through with the consciousness of such provisionality. This point is further explained in another essay titled “How to teach a culturally different book,” (Landry and McClean, 1996, 237–266) where Spivak cautions against a too quick embracing of the ‘other’ grounded in neocolonial notions of national identities and ethnic minorities. The question that she asks (countering the phrase of Kenyan writer Ngugi wa Thiong’o’s goal for revisionist history-writing as

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“the decolonization of the imagination”) is, “Who decolonizes? And how?” In this question, Spivak’s two major concerns with regard to “identity” are spotlighted. The first concern is that of the newly privileged identity of the decolonized, and the other is the effaced “identity” of woman as we have seen in the preceding section. In the case of the former, she is searingly critical of constructed identities such as “IndoAnglian” (term coined in the 1950s by the Writers’ Workshop Collective in Calcutta). The demand of the multicultural canon to include only writings of global English obscures the identity of those who for millennia have been suppressed and silenced, such as those possessing the oral traditions of aboriginal India. Privileging the higher-class cosmopolitan voice of the Indo-Anglian as the “native informant” of the subcontinent does violence to those who are unable to speak and write in English. Here the historical production of the colonial subject is denied when progressive but native bourgeoisie is mistaken for the primitive and “pure” in order to satisfy the demand for such esoteric and controlled difference. Decolonization thus engenders the privileging of a particular class (and often gender), with specific attributes. This class then effectively functions as the “periphery” to the metropolitan “center” which consequently canonizes their literary productions as “native,” “pure,” and “true.” With regard to “woman” or in this case, “Indian woman,” it is her view that any “real” information as an agent on the part of women can be generated only with the greatest of difficulty, not in the least because she (the poor Indian woman) is already described sympathetically. She is already heroicized, positioned, and minoritized as the “poor oppressed Indian woman.” For her specific agenda of postcolonial feminism, such discursive representation of “Indian women” is only part of a self-advancing and self-congratulatory pose adopted by a liberal but hegemonizing Western feminist discourse. Further, if one were to examine the representations of “Indian woman” in Indian nationalist literature, one would find even more invidious examples of effacement and exclusion. In her view, the political as well as discursive dimensions of representations of these women are ultimately subject to coercive patriarchal concerns under the impetus of a nationalist agenda. Privileged identity positions therefore only reinscribe the gendered subaltern’s invisibility and inability to speak for herself. Spivak’s engagement with representation goes even further than the critique of Western texts that seek to represent “Indian” and “woman.” The problem of privileged identity as problematized by postcolonial historiography and local knowledges also manages to silence the voice of the gendered subaltern. For example, the “Subaltern Collective,”5 in charting a “politics of the people” argues


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that there is no such thing as a unified and singular domain of politics or history. Rather, it was always split between an elite and subaltern part, each of which was autonomous in its own way. One of the major foci of the subaltern collective has been precisely to undo the view of modern Indian History as the “struggle” for freedom from the British. Emphasized in the work of the Subaltern Collective therefore are the hitherto silenced and therefore missing voices of the masses with the data emerging from unconventional or neglected sources. The successful silencing of these voices in Indian history was deemed to be a failure of the people and the collective attempts to study this failure. The subaltern perspective within postcolonial theory transforms postcolonial theory by presenting us with the ways in which people with relatively little power were able to transform their culture. Spivak, in her “reading against the grain” of these texts, notes both problems as well as possibilities for retrieval to be found in the highlighting of identity in these texts (paradoxical as it may seem). While she disparages the privileging of identity, she nonetheless identifies in these writings the charting of a useful subaltern consciousness, a “strategic essentialism” for a “visible political interest.” In other words, she denies that identity can automatically lead to a superior epistemological position but affirms that identity can confer a position from which to speak. The concept of strategic essentialism also points to Spivak’s commitment to avoid at all costs “an essentialist and utopian politics” (Gandhi, 1998, 81). In her deployment of the idea of strategic essentialism she is insistent that it does not mean that the subaltern’s identity is immutable. Rather, she endeavors to show that although each historical phenomenon is determined by the way it is constituted, some of its constitutive elements are essential to its historical identity and some others are not. Ethics in the postcolony, according to Spivak therefore, is a delicate balance of negotiation between gender, race, culture, and class positionalities. Spivak wants to secure a space for the gendered subaltern to act ethically in order to avoid the problems of others acting or speaking on behalf of her. In so doing however, postcolonial theological attempts to bring Spivak into dialogue with Catholic theology will necessarily be discontinuous and oppositional, as we shall see in the following examination of Rahner’s presentation of existential ethics.

Existential Ethics: Rahner’s “Fundamental Option”
As has been asserted before, the implications for a postcolonial theology with regard to postcolonial theory may be that the specific agendas

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remain incommensurable to a certain extent. Hence Spivak, even as she draws from Irigaray, refuses to deal with Irigaray’s revisionist and deliberately provocative stance towardChristian theology. In fact, she actively denies the space of any theology (especially “transcendence theologies that speak to the other world”). Nevertheless, in my view, a postcolonial theologian must answer this challenge to theology in the postcolonial context. Her call to love, her refusal to engage the language of the Incarnation and her dismissal of the possibility of a theological anthropology in which the idea of “love” has circulated in the Christian West must be answered. The postcolonial theologian must also examine the call to love in other contexts, such as in Rahner, where “love” is the ambit of the transcendental subject toward the other and less the embodied response of the so-called other in her attempt to interrupt and intervene in those exclusionary discourses. The thesis here with specific regard to Rahner’s theological ethics is that the tactical and tactile intervention of the gendered subaltern that emerges in a context of love reformulates ethics in the postcolonial sphere as a challenge and interruption of traditional Christian anthropocentric ethics. Further, postcolonial theology must commit itself to being a feminist theology and postcolonial theological ethics absolutely committed to feminist ethics. If it does not, it will fail in its attempts to address concerns that are significant to postcolonial theorists especially the concern of sexual difference and its role in global capitalist positioning. In such a view, the contentious position taken by postcolonial theorists retains its critical function by being unassimilable with the manner in which Catholic theology configures ethics. This segment of the chapter intends to probe the implications of Rahner’s call to love the neighbor as equal to love for God in the context of the pluralism facing theology and the Church in the world. The context of pluralism in the manner that Rahner describes it requires theological thinking to move quickly to the constructive-practical as has been argued before. In light of that requirement, this section is divided into two parts. In the first section, a much-beleaguered idea in Rahner, called the “Fundamental Option” is examined critically. It is shown that for Rahner, the idea of the “Fundamental Option” undergirds “existential ethics.” In other words, the spiritual “capacity for the eternal” is manifested in unique ethical responses, that is, choosing in light of the eternal, which is how human beings come to be. Human beings come to be by hearing and doing in response to that which they have heard. The idea is meant to capture the tension between autonomy and dependence on God—it is both fundamental and an option


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at the same time. Ethical acts, moreover, in this view, have a unique significance in that they are not just the realization of an universal idea. Since the human being is destined for eternity through their life in the concrete, their acts have meaning not just morally, but ontologically (TI: 2, 217–234). Nevertheless, Rahner hesitates to concretize his proposal especially in relation to the challenge of cultures. Rahner’s exposition of existential ethics is not situation ethics, which introduces problematic relativizing elements in ethical action. Neither is existential ethics in Rahner akin to current Catholic theological ethics, which is an application of universal norms in the concrete and therefore ascribes a syllogistic and deductive nature to ethical thought. Rahner’s specific problem with the way in which current moral theology operates has to do with the question of why moral action is simply the realization of universal norms. Moral action, which necessarily must be ascribed to the individual, is surely revealing of something else as well. Further, situation ethics does not clearly describe what a “concrete situation” really is. In other words, Rahner is alerting us to the fact that there is definite ambiguity attached to the human context in which human moral response must take place. Hence, one cannot comprehensively describe the concrete moral action as simply a case of the universal—that is definitely not the relationship between the universal and individual that he wants to develop. From a Christian theological standpoint, Rahner says that moral acts have meaning, not simply for the present moment, but also for eternity and not just for a situation, but also ontologically (TI: 2, 225). Thus, human beings are not simply the occasion for the universal but the individual contributes something positively to the universal. Further, each concrete individual action is irrevocably singular and unique in its spiritual nature. He has thus effected a Thomistic correction of Kant’s deontological ethics. Moreover, in each concrete moral decision, there is for Rahner the aspect of becoming—we enter into the ineffability of our moral natures. However, existential ethics is explicitly not an individual ethics—the focus on the idea of “existential” has to do with what constitutes human nature. This last idea in Rahner is definitely in contrast to that of postcolonial theory as we have seen before in our discussion of the idea of “existential” in Chapter 1. Here, the idea of existential as Rahner is using it actually radicalizes concrete action:
Yet, this existential ethics does not signify an unreal “ethics of existence” (in the sense of the familiar distinction of existence and essence). On the contrary, it relates—in accordance with the original content of meaning in the modern word “existential”—to the substantial nature of the

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human being, in so far as this . . . must achieve itself constitutively in the positivity of each single, uniquely-one con-cretion of the individual decision. (228, emphasis added)

There is a clearly discernible emphasis here on the singularity of the ethical action that takes place within a context of dealing with others. I argue therefore, that there are ways in which Rahner’s agenda can enrich the conversation that Spivak is attempting in the postcolonial sphere even as he presents the opposite agenda to Spivak’s. The uniqueness of the ethical action is safeguarded in Rahner by his insistence on the absolute individuality of the ethical response: so individual that it even escapes ecclesiastical control. However, the ethical response is not just anything that one may do; it is undeniably an act of “fundamental engagement” that the human being embarks on from the very beginning of the realization of one’s basic freedom. In other words, the singular ethical response is thoroughly rooted in love and freedom as well as in the human capacity for the eternal. Rahner means here that the singular ethical response is related to both the Incarnation as well as to the eschatological horizon. As such it is a theological and spiritual notion. The formulation of the ethical act in this manner fleshes out Spivak’s agenda to embody ethics in the postcolony, but also frames it in relation to the Christian tradition, which remains problematic for Spivak. The Fundamental Option is the basic act of human freedom, which infuses the whole of human existence. Therefore it is also existentialhistorical in its manifestation. In so saying, Rahner is indicating that he understands human freedom to have a processual and interrelational nature. Again, the basic manner in which ethics functions in Rahner’s theological framework is not necessarily unamenable to Spivak’s. Ethics, within the horizon of the choice for what is eternal, that is God, is really a capacity of the heart, the capacity to love. Such an ability to love indicates an ability to take tremendous risks on the part of the human being. One is called, in the entirety of one’s being, to commit oneself fully to God, who is no “Impersonal It” declares Rahner (TI: 2, 217). This God who calls us is the living God and “all human activity is essentially a response to this call, which is the ultimate basis of its historicity” (217, emphasis added). In other words, for Rahner the Fundamental Option, concretized as “love” is simultaneously the only relationship that human beings have between themselves through their relationship to God. Here Spivak and Rahner are in complete tension.


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The tension continues in the construal of the Fundamental Option by Rahner as rooted in human beings’ transcendental experiences of the ineffable mystery of God that surrounds us. Rahner says:
. . . persons who open themselves to their transcendental experience of the holy mystery at all has the experience that this mystery is not only an infinitely distant horizon, a remote judgment which judges from a distance their consciousness and their world of persons and things, it is not only something which frightens them away and back to the narrow confines of their everyday world. The experience rather that this holy mystery is also a hidden closeness, a forgiving intimacy, a real home, that it is a love which shares itself, something familiar which they can approach and turn to from the estrangement of their own perilous and empty life. It is the person who in the forlornness of their guilt still turns in trust to the mystery of their existence which is quietly present, and surrenders themselves as those who even in their own guilt no longer want to understand themselves in a self-centered and self-sufficient manner, it is such persons who experience themselves as one who does not forgive themselves, but who is forgiven, and they experience this forgiveness which they receive as the hidden, forgiving and liberating love of God’s very self, who forgives in that, God gives Godself, because only in this way can there really be forgiveness once and for all. (Rahner, 1978, 131)

For Rahner, these transcendental experiences of God’s closeness are the only way in which we can arrive at the truth of the human person. Love of God orders and makes meaningful all of human life and all of our experiences. Nevertheless, the human being is also defined by their response to such an ever-reaching love. We have the freedom to say “yes” or “no” to such an offer. However, since our response is part of our transcendental experience, we can never really reflect on it absolutely. But we are able to actualize our subjectivity only in the a posteriori historical encounter of other persons and creation, an encounter which remains, in the final analysis, a mystery. Naturally, these ideas are tied to the issue of grace for Rahner. Specifically, grace in the matrix of divine/human intersubjectivity engenders human intersubjectivity and ethical relations. Love or the highest ethical achievement is a result of Grace. For Rahner this idea grounds the first two statements of the “Brief Anthropological Creed”:
A person really discovers their true self in a genuine act of self-realization only if they risk themselves radically for another. If they do this, they grasp unthematically or explicitly what we mean by God as the horizon,

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the guarantor and the radical depths of this love, the God who in God’s existentiell and historical self-communication made Godself the realm within which such love is possible. (Rahner, 1978, 456)

Rahner goes on to explain that it is God’s self-communication that creates the possibility of interpersonal love, which is of course also our task. However, such love is not possible without our assiduous attention to the work of choosing God in everything that is concrete. There is an indelible connection between hearing and doing the Word. Hearing the Word in human history and spatio-temporality means that there is a mandate to “do” what the Word commands. It is in the “doing” that human beings come to be the unique persons they are. In other words, the freedom to do, the freedom to do responsibly, is Rahner’s keynote idea on which the idea of the Fundamental Option is based. Fundamental Option, therefore, is simultaneously the action of grace and graced freedom in human lives. In other words, for Rahner, the idea of the Fundamental Option guarantees that Christian ethics is never simply “equality” or “justice” or even just “love.” Christian ethics is always about expressing our relationship with God and human others, through Jesus Christ, in grace. Now these specifically Christian ideas on an initial reading will seem to be in complete opposition to Spivak’s. However, Spivak’s cogent arguments against Western modes of framing democratic participation as “justice” and “equality” can find resonance in Rahner’s Christian proposal to root ethical action in relationship. Consequently, postcolonial theology needs to enhance the idea that ethics in Spivak and Rahner is to be framed in the context of relationship to God in which the historical accidents of race, class, and gender complicate and contribute to the messiness of being human. There is one other issue that is of importance in postcolonial theology—the ability of one’s ethical position to be self-reflexively critical of the historical situation one inhabits. In other words, “love” needs to bear the burden of both ethical action as well as the critical function that can address systems of oppression from within. In this regard, Spivak’s agenda is more forthcoming, whereas, in Rahner, such a focus seems incidental. Since love is the result of freedom, its exercise brings to human beings the fulfillment of themselves in who we are meant to be. For Rahner, ethics is rooted in the human attribute of freedom that remains unable to account for contradictions and oppositions in human nature due to systemic or social arrangements. In an essay titled “The ‘Commandment’ of Love” (TI: 5, 439–459), Rahner mentions that “love” as such cannot make any sense for us, because “it is always on its way,” and also because it is without a total prior


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“commitment” or an “original choice” to support the movement of the spirit (447). In this he asserts that he follows Thomas Aquinas. Love accordingly, is not a task beside many others, but is rather, the “total act of self-realization and commitment” (447). Thus Rahner:
If love, is seen simply as the total act of self-realization and commitment, then the question becomes more difficult: must not such an act be necessarily exercised—at least in the form of an “engagement fondamental”— at the very beginning? Must it not be the first total act of human beings taking possession of themselves by freedom, even though it will perhaps still be a somewhat formal act and will have to be filled in content in the course of history? Must it not be the human being’s original attitude which then determines the ultimate direction and quality of individual part-acts performed in the course of existence? (447)

The nature of love, however, is not something that we can quantify and objectify to any great extent. For Rahner, love can “never be performed or negotiated.” “Love” is a “global and fundamental” choice that is open to human beings, from which all other virtues flow. Rahner admits that this very Thomistic idea is somewhat ahistorical (TI: 5, 450) in that Thomas would argue that moral acts seen in a successive view do not necessarily lead to the fulfillment of the commandment to love, but that the decision to love ought to be seen as the source from which all virtues flow. Nevertheless, to make the idea more existential-ethical, Rahner wants to foreground the idea of Fundamental Option as an exercise of freedom. Here “love” is the Fundamental Option. For postcolonial theology, the question remains as to whether the idea of the Fundamental Option is sufficiently historical. Spivak would vehemently disagree on the grounds that in her view ethics ought to retain its performative dimension in the context of political commitments. Her emphasis on ethics in the response mode would also challenge Rahner’s attempt to ground ethics in universalizing formulations that cannot take into account the specificity of social and gendered location. Finally, for Rahner the idea of the Fundamental Option is a prerequisite for disposing oneself before God in the concrete. Consequently, the Fundamental Option emphasizes the mystical dimension of the exercise and presence of human freedom. The model who embodies the idea of the Fundamental Option in its mystical aspect in the concrete is Ignatius of Loyola. “Embodiedness” here is defined as disposing oneself entirely to God.6 Two basic themes of Ignatian piety— “Indiferençia” and “finding God in all things,” facilitate the disposition

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to God that Rahner prizes so highly. “Indiferençia” is a formal quality, an attitude to all thoughts and practices (including those that may be understood as specifically religious). It helps us realize that God is always greater than even any particular encounter with the divine presence. “Indiferençia” leads to finding God in all things, including in the world, if that is where God chooses to show Godself. Of Ignatius Rahner says:
(He) only seeks the God of Jesus Christ, the free, personal Absolute: contemplativus. He knows that he can seek and find him also in the world, if this should please him: in actione. And so he is prepared in indiferençia to seek him and him alone, always him alone but also him everywhere, also in the world: in actione contemplativus. (TI: 3, 277–293)

The Fundamental Option is therefore as a capacity for the eternal, the choice one makes to seek God concretely in all things, gives primacy to dependence and reciprocity in our understanding of freedom and autonomy precisely in and through our relationship with God. Nevertheless, it is important to note that Rahner goes to great lengths to make concrete the spiritual idea of Fundamental Option by connecting it to love of neighbor. The primary point to be stressed here is that, for Rahner, it is in our state of indifference before God that we can enact our greatest responsibility and thus our freedom. Spivak would attack this idea as an example of ethics having to be rooted in an other-worldly emphasis. But what does an ethics that is not otherworldly look like especially when the appeal is made to “love”? Rahner for example, was well aware of the secularization of ethics in his context. In the context of European secularization, Rahner adverts to his solution in the context of pluralism: every positively moral act possesses the stamp of an anonymous Christianity. The existential God-human relationship undergirds all human relationality. Human actions stemming from this awareness are “love” according to Rahner, which is what distinguishes true “action for another” from a socio-political one (TI: 6, 231–249). In order for “love” to become a tangible and helping action, Rahner asserts that “love” is synonymous with charity,7 and “loses itself in the depth of the love of God by dissolving itself or by becoming unimportant.” (TI: 6, 232) Thus, love of God cannot exist without love of neighbor and vice versa. We begin to see here that Rahner’s attempt to outline love in the rather unique manner that he does has something to do with a suspicion of a secularized ethics.


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In explicitly addressing that issue, Rahner underscores that the love of God and love of neighbor are identical especially given the contemporary situation of “demythologization.” Demythologization is Rahner’s word for the attempt to remove discourse about the human being and of human actions from a religious context. He understands this to be the secular context of contemporary human beings:
Sociology is making an attempt to replace metaphysics or to convert philosophy into an ontology of intercommunication. The orientation of the philosophy of cognoscitive transcendence towards a beyond which is always valid seems to want to turn in the direction for hopedfor future events; action is not experienced as the derived consequence of knowledge but rather knowledge is seen as the event of self-consciousness which dwells only in action itself. The god of the beyond of the world is suspected to be a non-verifiable ghost, which must be laid, since he does not exist there where we experience, achieve and suffer ourselves and where we suffer ourselves in solitude as only real bottomless abyss. (TI: 6, 233)

Secular contemporary human ethics is abhorrent to Rahner. As far as he is concerned, placing these contemporary “truths” over and above the words of the Gospel will only imperil our loving actions towardothers. He unequivocally states here “the whole truth of the Gospel is still hidden and in germ in what one finds most easily as a deed and then as truth, viz., in the love of one’s neighbor” (TI: 6, 233, original emphasis). There is, however, a distinction to be made between acts of love to God and the acts of love to neighbor. Not every act of love to God in prayer and trust is to be equated absolutely with acts of love to neighbor. But in every act of love to neighbor is to be found a necessary love of God. Such a love for God may not be an “explicitly categorized motive” says Rahner, but when performed in the horizon of God’s prevenient grace, is “anonymously Christian.” Thus, every positively moral act of the human being has positive supernatural salvific value (239). Further, love of neighbor is the “basic moral activity of the human being.” The human being responds to the world singularly, which is to say that in human beings there is a unification of knowledge and will which responds to the plurality on the outside of themselves by systematizing and unifying this plurality. Knowledge in this sense has the characteristic of “returning to oneself,” and willing and freedom are the self-disposing acts within a horizon of finality (TI: 6, 240). Rahner cautions here that this understanding of the unifying capacity of the human being’s freedom and knowledge is not to be taken in an

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egocentric sense. Knowledge in this regard is mediated precisely through the object or person being known, and freedom is “loving communication with the human Thou as such.” Rahner is being as careful as he possibly can to assert that the loving communication with the “human thou,” which is the “other,” is connected both to the larger tradition of Christian charity as well as to the more modern understanding of human beings as different from each other and unique beings in themselves. It can be asserted that Rahner is anticipating a riposte to the more secular theories of alterity that postcolonial theorists draw on. In grounding ethics in the historical-existential dimension of human reality and the free disposition before God, Rahner has created the opposite problem from Spivak of benevolent universalism. Postcolonial theology aiming for a conversation between these two forms of ethical thinking will have to avoid the pitfalls presented by both extremes. Such a constructive spin is presented in the last section of this chapter. In the following section we follow Spivak more closely into her program for ethical thinking that positively acknowledges the ambiguities arising from embodied difference. It remains to be assessed in the next section of this chapter, how embodied difference features in Catholic theology. As asserted earlier, Spivak anticipates such a move and castigates it for being too “other-worldly.” The interesting question here for postcolonial theology is whether an incarnational ethics such as that hinted at by Spivak can indeed be other than rooted in an otherworldly vision. The utopian declarations of postcolonial theorists seem to both want the embodied response while simultaneously attempting to escape the anthropological enclosure. Their warning against the anthropocentrism of an earlier Western and Christian framework possibly addresses one of the greatest violences of our time—ecological destruction, which Spivak hints at, as we shall see.

Embodied Interventions: The Interruptive Caress
Spivak is firmly committed to a feminist vision that will promote an “ethics under difference.” This means that she is interested in promoting a feminist alliance that cuts across differences, not just in the realms of identity and culture but within the global economy itself. However, the condition that promotes institutional agency in the feminist project is love, which does not exercise ontological control while simultaneously presenting ethical thought aimed at reorganization of the institutions of the economy. A “large scale mind change”


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is impossible by reason alone in her view. Rather, (surprisingly), “one needs to build up a conviction for the sacredness for human life” (Landry and MacLean, 1996, 275). However, this is no blueprint for any theology:
For Nature, the sacred other of human community is, in this thinking, also bound by the structure of ethical responsibility of which I have spoken in connection with women’s justice . . . We must learn “love” (a simple name for ethical responsibility-in-singularity) . . . in viewing the impossibility of communication. No individual-transcendence theology, being just in this world in view of the next—however the next is underplayed—can bring us to this. (276)8

In the more recent rewriting of this paragraph in The Critique of Postcolonial Reason (382–383) she reiterates even more strongly that the ethical justice that she is calling for here (specifically ecological justice) cannot be served by any of the great religions of the world. For her, religion has been too imbricated in the narrative of the ebb and flow of overweening power. The “terrifying” ideas as expressed in phrases such as “Hindu India” and “Christian Europe” all attest to the truth that religion has played into the seductive concerns of modernity creating ever more violent exclusions and discriminations. The only thing that can help, she asserts, is the supplementing of collective efforts with love. This “love” in the later writing is identified as “mind-changing one-on-one responsible contact” (Spivak, 1998, 383). Her goal is that we “learn to love as equals.” But why is there the omission in Spivak to examine the gravidity of “love” in Western philosophy and theology? Undoubtedly she is rereading Derrida, who in her view is too embedded in a religious framework to make of “love” a term that possesses ethico-political content.9 I will argue here that Spivak makes this move only to repudiate the “taint” of Christianity in her proposal and that she is ill served by such a move. Spivak is nonetheless aware of how the Christian imaginary is working in Irigaray and acknowledges that she will not “go there.” Nevertheless, the call to love in the self-avowedly secularized context that Spivak is writing in, betrays once again the infamous divide between “religious” and “secular.” Thus, Spivak is advocating an autonomous ethics minus the context of faith. Various analyses of the divide as indicated earlier show that “religious” and “secular” are simply two sides of the same coin of being in the world. Can the false separation that we saw in Bhabha for example be avoided here by pushing Spivak to articulate her call to love within a context of religious

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faith and practice? As we shall see, Spivak is leery of such a move in her proposals for love. Her constructive ethical agenda is meant to answer deconstruction’s critics who see little that is constructive in the theoretical work of thinkers who employ one variety or another of deconstructionism. In a conversation sponsored by the Union for Radical Political Economics,10 Spivak elucidates her ideas on female agency in the economy, the relationship between women’s oppression and capitalism, and conceptions of progress. She asserts here that, “there is no necessary connection between capitalism and specifically women’s oppression.”11 This is to counter the charge made by others on the panel that “imperialism is neither the principal cause of underdevelopment in the Third World, nor is it a key ingredient in the levels of wealth achieved by imperial powers.” Spivak is in basic agreement with this assessment, because it is also true that socialized capitalism in some contexts has indeed brought about some degree of economic emancipation for some women and may be referring here to initiatives such as the Grameen Bank in Bangladesh for example. Spivak then maintains that it is important to evaluate the situation in which capitalism occurs and whether women allow themselves to be dominated with cultural consent in that situation. It is not possible in her opinion to rely on the “abstract logic of capital.” Neither is any single concept of “female identity” useful and she advocates a “methodological necessity to distinguish between subjectship and agency,” in order to create a rhetorical model of resistance. Here, instead of the usual solution of creating free choice for “women” which Spivak calls “gender-training,” she proposes a program to change economic institutions, which then function as interventions in the sphere of agency. She terms the ethical position that stems out of this goal as an “ethics of sexual difference.” Thus Spivak:
For some years now, that part of the Women’s Movement that is not taken in my simple declarations of global sisterhood, has been mobilizing around the question of the problematic of the ethics of sexual difference. Problematic because an ethical position entails a universal presupposition, that must at the same time inhabit ethical singularity. Is there such a common ground inscribed by sexual difference? . . . . . . If there is a universal principle it is in the incessant renegotiation of difference. Such a principle is an impossible starting point for anything. It is better to keep working away at the (im)possible, than to make things seem possible by way of polarizations. (Spivak, 1993, 215–216, emphasis added)


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Ethical singularity is a highly intimate and impossible relationship in which one responds to another and, in so doing, makes discursive room for the other rather than speak for them. It is not liberal benevolence which is the worst perpetrator of such injustices that Spivak is most disparaging about. An ethics of difference is always based in ethical singularity. The following passage is redolent with all the themes dear to her, and astonishingly, also resonant with themes of the “mystery”12 of encounter:
“Ethical Singularity” is neither “mass contact” nor engagement with “the common sense of the people.” We all know that when we engage profoundly with one person, the responses come from both sides: this is responsibility and accountability. We also know that in such engagements we want to reveal and reveal, concealing nothing. Yet on both sides there is always a sense that something has not got across. This we call the “secret,” not something that one wants to conceal, but something that one wants to reveal. In this sense, the effort of “ethical singularity” may be called a “secret encounter.” . . . In this secret singularity, the object of ethical action is not an object of benevolence, for her responses flow from both sides. It is not identical with the frank and open exchange between radicals and the oppressed in times of crisis, or the intimacy that anthropologists often claim with their informant groups . . . This encounter can only happen when the respondents inhabit something like normality . . . In fact, it is impossible for all leaders (subaltern or otherwise) to engage every subaltern in this way, especially across the gender divide. This is why ethics is the experience of the impossible. This understanding only sharpens the sense of the crucial and continuing struggle supplemented by the impossibility of full ethical engagement . . .13

Ethical singularity is the practice of freedom. Thus, it is not simply the deconstructive mode that one engages in, in the practice of ethics and freedom, but to realize in the end that ethics is the deliberate form taken in the practice of freedom (Spivak, 1993, 42). Further, both “modes” of one’s practice of freedom, that is, deconstruction and ethics, require “love.” Deconstruction then is not simply the “exposure of error” or the “tabulation of error” or the seeking to overthrow the metaphysical enclosure violently (130). Once one realizes the “theoretical absurdity” of all these positions, what one is left with is love. However, part of one’s ethical agenda is to investigate the “language of the other.” In other words, language becomes a clue to gendered agency. Nevertheless, language is not everything, she avers, because the rhetorical and the

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figurative have the ability to disrupt logic much more than language can. Every act of reading and translating, therefore, reveals how the “selvedges of the language-textile give(s) way” (180) but most importantly, this highest of ethical acts can only be done with love and with the “freeing sense of responsibility” (179). Without love one cannot investigate rhetoricity, because without love the translator or investigator cannot “engage with, or care sufficiently for the rhetoricity of the original”(181). Discursive contexts then require love. Rhetoricity and the figurative become apparent in a “climate” marked by love. However, what Spivak does not acknowledge is that the sources of her ideas on “love” are drawn from Luce Irigaray’s (Christian)14 writings, even as she acknowledges that she cannot follow Irigaray there. Luce Irigaray in “Plato’s Hystera” (1985, 243–364) argues that Western metaphysics is constructed on a deception—a primal act of forgetfulness that is the repudiation of the wombed beginning of life. Further, since “woman” has already been collapsed into that of “man,” it is very difficult, maintains Irigaray, to define or understand the two sexes. The idea of two sexes crumple into a single idea called “human nature.” In this idea, the difference of female is obliterated and comes to have value as part of the material patrimony and reproduction of children. Thus, individual differences in such a scheme is neither encouraged nor cultivated. Spivak warmly takes up this idea as we have seen in a number of her writings. Her insistence on sexual difference as a major analytic category has its provenance in Irigaray. Christian theology problematically insists on the crumpling of gendered difference into one category called “human nature.” Irigaray and Spivak’s forceful criticism of such an obliteration of difference will not allow postcolonial theology to continue to insist on the problematically constructed sameness of “human nature.” For Irigaray, the way to protecting difference is love. Love in difference and love of difference expresses concern and understanding for men and women by and for each other. The end result of such a respecting of differences, according to Irigaray, would even help religion recover its meaning as a relationship with the divine rather than just being a vehicle to protect the possessions of one kind of human being and from reinscribing the domination of one over the other. In other words, Irigaray hints at the necessity of a new ethical social order, which would radicalize even theology. Gendered difference can be valued in love and as a work of love. In other words, Rahner’s love of neighbor takes on a particular cast—the love of the other (woman) who is the primary encounter with difference for a masculinist ethics.


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Further, this call also outlines the task for the postcolonial theologian whose difference of gender must interrupt the historical narratives with a “fecund caress.” “Love” is concretized in this manner: it is fruitful, loving touch, which valorizes difference. Conceptualized in the language of erotic love, the fecund caress for Irigaray (and Spivak) births the “possibility of two spaces, un-universalizable with each other” (Spivak, 1993, 168) Only in the touch, in the caress, can ethics be incarnated; otherwise ethics remains “ethics as such.” In fact, she avers, the agency of the caress (the woman as the one who instigates the caress is a big step in patriarchal cultures, she insists), has the capacity to evoke “blankness,” an ineffability that helps us unlearn “agency” in the literal sense. In such a mysterious blankness, a bicameral universal of love opens itself up “in order to provide the impossible differed/deferred grounding of the ethics of sexual difference in the fecund caress” (Spivak, 1993, 170). Critical here is the primacy of the agent of the caress (in this case, woman who has been systematically written out of history) whose ethical injunction is also to love the other. The ethical here is grounded in the act of caress in the impossibly intimate space of the ethical. It is a singular event and not entirely comprehensible because it is enveloped in mystery. Most importantly, the ethical act here is grounded in difference. Against a masculinist ethics, which presupposes a “rational” and homogeneous subject, ethics of sexual difference starts with the universal experience of women as biologically and sexually different but who are able to bridge such differences through the agency of touch. In this situation, one must begin with the universal experience of being differentiated in this manner, which, as she avers, is an “impossible starting point.” Sexual difference ethics does not aim at the glorification of the feminine but aims at the actualization or empowerment of women as a political project presented by alternative female subjectivities. The focus on the erotic gesture to bridge difference may have significance for postcolonial feminist theology. As mentioned earlier, contemporary Catholic theology is much energized by the Pope’s encyclical on love and the revaluation of Eros. A significant task facing postcolonial theology therefore would be the development of erotic love to preserve and value gendered, racial, and cultural differences to honor heterogeneity. Rahner however, does not present love as Eros; love in Rahner is unambiguously Agape as we see below. His ethical action follows a particular view in the Roman Catholic tradition of Eros and Agape as separated. Agape in Rahner is more easily amenable to mysticism—the key for postcolonial theology would be to assert that Agape and Eros are able to work toward mysticism.

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Incarnating the “Fundamental Option”
It can be argued that even as Rahner succeeds in presenting the idea of love as a lynchpin of the historical-existential dimension of human reality, he fails to analyze the heterogeneous context that characterizes history. That is, the context of the historical-existential is not simply our creaturely context of relationship with God and an uncomplicated relationship with the human other. Rahner would agree with this criticism and would point to the many places in his theology where the “practical impulse” as it has been called, has been accentuated in his views on relating to one’s neighbor. However, it is my argument that a more radical move to be made with Rahner’s theology is to ask what exactly the Fundamental Option would mean for a feminist postcolonial theology. Could it be that feminist postcolonial theory refuses to allow for a theological aspect in its formulation because of the manner in which Christian theology traditionally ignores difference? First, if love is in the incarnation of the spiritual idea of the Fundamental Option, then does such love possess a corporeal aspect? Specifically, what would it mean for human beings (and for women especially) to be told that “love” is linked indelibly to the “Fundamental Option?” Further, one must consider also the concern articulated by Graham Ward among others with regard to the ambivalent and subjective involvement of “love” in any ethical program (Ward, 1996, 79–80). Ward says here that love at the root of ethics raises the “specter of antinomianism”—or “love and do whatever one wills”— even if, for example, it is engaging in non-consensual sex with minors. Or, it can give precedence to an emotional coloring of an issue and thus blind one to the long-term judgment of the situation. Third, there is potential for tragedy here because a high degree of selfknowledge is necessary in the act of love. For example, according to Ward, a multicultural analysis of the parable of “The Good Samaritan” would highlight the dangers of love in such complex situations and point to the real danger that might have occurred if the Samaritan had indeed performed a misstep in his “act of love.” If he had not had the medical skills necessary to help the Jewish man, and through ineptitude, would have resulted in the man’s death, the racial, cultural, and communal divisions in his society would have increased dramatically. Thus, the cash value of the linkage of love and the Fundamental Option is rather thin for any contemporary ethics, which seeks to present a contemporary feminist theological ethics. Contemporary ethics will demand that actions motivated by love respond more concretely to actual historical situations than Rahner


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attempted. Further, the idea of the Fundamental Option in Rahner has been so beset with theological and philosophical problems that critics advise a rethinking or a jettisoning of the idea all together. It is instructive to engage the critics as they attempt to develop a more concrete proposal for the Fundamental Option, but as I will argue, in terms of a radically concrete proposal for the Fundamental Option, we need to drive its historical and categorical implications ever more forcefully to engage the concerns of feminist postcolonial thinkers. Particular and domestic problems of Rahner’s idea of Fundamental Option and its consequences for Catholic ethics are evident in the internal reception of the idea in contemporary Catholic social ethics. Notably, in a volume of Philosophy and Theology (Vol. 10, 1997, # 1), dedicated to the idea, commentators point to the resurgence of interest in the concept because of the objections listed against it in the encyclical Veritatis Splendor. Among the criticisms is the notion that the idea of the Fundamental Option unduly separates the moral actions of human persons from their relationship with God. Catholic thinkers, in responding to this critique, advocate a revision of the idea of Fundamental Option or, in some cases, advocate that it be thrown out altogether. I wish to look at a few of these analyses briefly in order to chart a feminist and postcolonial critique of the idea in terms of the practice of ethical thinking for contemporary catholic theology in the next section. For example, in his analysis of John Paul II’s basic issues with “Fundamental Option,” Timothy E. O’Connell (1997, 143–168) first states that the Pope misunderstands Fundamental Option. The idea of Fundamental Option, according to O’Connell, makes clear that, for Rahner, freedom is “multi-layered” (151). It is specifically not some sort of “license.” Precisely because it is experienced by the person as something given, it becomes a responsibility. Thus the word “option” (in the idea termed as Grundentscheidung) is a misnomer, according to O’Connell. One cannot make a Grundentscheidung. One is given it. This idea is rooted in Rahner’s transcendental anthropology, which does not seek to give us concrete and clear solutions for our moral questions, but maintains ambiguity with regard to them. In other words, the foundation of “transcendental” provides for a “depth dimension” allowing for ambiguity and discontinuity in our moral choices (156). The notion of the Fundamental Option is also connected to the idea of the supernatural existential, which firmly maintains Rahner’s agenda of maintaining the dialectic between autonomy and dependence on God. Hence the idea of the Fundamental Option denies the premodern understanding of human

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person which “identifies overall personhood with the facticity of acts in an immediate and unnuanced way” (162). What the Pope seems to resist strongly is ambiguity of knowledge about one’s personal moral state and more significantly, the ambiguity of the fact of the coexistence of objectively gravely wrong acts and a commitment to the good. In O’Connell’s view, Rahner’s delineation of the Fundamental Option clearly attempts to speak to such human ambiguities or excesses. Nevertheless, O’Connell questions whether we even need such a complicated and confusing idea such as the Fundamental Option for a contemporary theological anthropology. His evaluation states that the Fundamental Option is limited in its emphasis that the center of the moral enterprise as understood from its perspective is precisely not the categorical and concrete, but is one’s posture at the transcendental level. In O’Connell’s view, this creates a radical discontinuity between one’s categorical acts and transcendental posture. O’Connell then presents his own view of the idea of Fundamental Option (it is the Grund dimension of human experience that is key, not the idea of Grundentscheidung) and thinks that Rahner’s nuanced presentation of it is neither useful nor necessary because the morass of ideas around the Fundamental Option is technical and jargonistic to a high degree. He offers a “four-step” corrective: 1. retrieval of traditional notions, specifically that human acts that involve knowledge and freedom are limited by the realities of ambiguity and discontinuity; 2. the inclusion of the modern “turn to the interior”; 3. attention focused upon the temporality of human life; 4. emphasis on the cultural context. A feminist postcolonial theologian actually finds much that is agreeable in O’Connell’s corrective posture. Spivak’s proposal for example emphasizes the interruptive and discontinuous nature of the gendered subaltern’s interruptive caress, the temporal dimension of the present in which the caress is performed and the strategic positioning of the particular cultural identity of the subaltern to avoid feminist politics from assuming that women everywhere are one and the same. Absent of course is the importance of the turn to the interior, which could be developed from within feminist postcolonial theology. Brian Linnane, in his discussion (1997, 199–226) of the debate around this idea, states that Rahner can be “distressingly abstract” when he attempts to describe the life lived in grace but also argues


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that the “Fundamental Option,” as “dying with Christ,” is the most viable way to articulate Rahner’s theology of love of neighbor as love of God. Linnane points to Rahner’s relation of mysticism, dying with Christ and love of neighbor, thus preferring to highlight the mystical dimension of the Fundamental Option. Linnane asserts that it is the element of concrete love and servicethat establishes the possibility for a mystical relationship with God and discernment of God’s will outside of the context of an explicit prayer experience. “Love” of neighbor thus must explicitly mean “Dying with Christ.” Dying with Christ is not one single event. Rather, it is a conscious process that one engages in throughout one’s life and it is the experience of the decentred, self-disposing subject of transcendental experience that is manifest in and conditioned by concrete loving service to one’s neighbor. In other words, what Linnane is arguing for here is a renewed focus on Rahner’s spirituality as a practice and disposition that would best enable human beings to live in right relation. The constructive proposals suggested in contemporary Catholic scholarship in response to the Pope’s problem with the Fundamental Option all invite reflection by the postcolonial theologian. The issue that the Pope has with the Fundamental Option is instructive. The Pope would like to lay the onus for every moral act on the individual who commits it. For Rahner such a view would be taking moral theology too far into history and compromise the Thomistic view of the beginning of human beings’ spiritual history as the source for the development of the virtuous life.15 Rahner, however, is aware that “love” has to become more historicized and that it must become responsible in history. This is a positive move for postcolonial theology since Catholic theology’s overemphasis on anthropology is understood to be veering too closely toward anthropological essentialism. Postcolonial theology that must take into account the historical situatedness of human beings can counter such essentialism through its emphasis of the human being as part of a web of relationships. O’Connell, in addressing this dimension partially, calls for the retrieval of “traditional acts” that also are aware of limit and ambiguity, a turn to the interior, and an increased attention paid to historicity and culture. O’Connell, in my view, is really arguing for an intensification of Rahner’s program. O’Connell’s call is a call for a more concrete and historical presentation of Fundamental Option that may require the downplaying of the philosophical bases of Rahner’s scheme and an expansion of the act of love to one’s neighbor as more significant in the contemporary context. Finally, Brian Linnane provides us with the idea that Fundamental Option is best explained in the relation of

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mysticism, dying with Christ and love of neighbor. Linnane’s idea of the connection between mysticism and Fundamental Option leads us to ask how exactly the practice of mysticism can deepen an ethical commitment and also how ethical commitment and practice can lead to deeper union with the divine. The idea of Fundamental Option in Rahner is presented as a theological anthropology—one is given (as gift) the Fundamental Option in time and space, in a context and in one’s actual relations with God, with other people, and with God’s relationship to us. Thus, freedom, as an ordinary, universal human experience is unintelligible without the ability to decide for or against God and neighbor who are both encountered and known in and through the historical environment people experience in daily life. The task of the postcolonial theologian becomes to further nuance the anthropological content so that it illuminates the particular problem of history under colonial conditions without losing its theological mooring. Rahner, who himself was responding to the cultural problems of his time, tried to do the opposite, that is, nuance the theological content of history, without losing its anthropological mooring. Nevertheless, intensifying the historical pole in Rahner, as opposed to the manner in which the Fundamental Option seems to emphasize the transcendental pole is key to avoiding the problems with universalism that is communicated through this idea. Rahner secures for his existential ethics a theological foundation. But can the idea of the Fundamental Option secure for existential ethics a political foundation? To this question, one can answer only partially in the affirmative. As was said before, the idea of the Fundamental Option when connected to love of neighbor certainly enables us to view history as the place where one’s responsibility is enacted—an idea that has much political applicability in the postcolonial context. However, this political potential in Rahner can only be expanded when he is able to answer the question of how one’s Fundamental Option to love one’s neighbor results in preserving and honoring the neighbor’s historical and concrete difference/s? If difference is not honored in one’s acts of love, then what one has is a benevolent but hegemonizing impulse (anthropological essentialism) with as many attendant evils as the absence of love would entail in ethical contexts. The only way forward would be to articulate “love of neighbor” as an ethical imperative that consistently works to preserve such differences and that does not deny agency that arises from difference. Nevertheless, Rahner’s idea of “love of neighbor” is critical in that it presents an imperative that commits itself to seeking out commonality in differences. Rahner’s problem with the idea of


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the Fundamental Option is that he presumes commonality in the presence of actual difference. On the other hand, as we have seen even with Bhabha, postcolonial theorists are now saying that the fact that commonalities may be present in human encounter, especially in successful human encounters, means that commonality cannot be denied in human beings a priori. Since commonalities may not be presumed or denied, postcolonial theorists advocate a dialogical and reciprocal model for ethical behavior. “Love,” in this view, (following Levinas) enables us to perceive the other as other, in her/his particularity and specificity. Rahner may also be useful in that the emphasis on individual ethical acts places the burden of responsibility on individual responses. In postcolonial thought, such individuality, securing for the agent visibility through the ethical act is significant. The problem is with the move, in Rahner, to advocate a stringently Christian theological basis for such moves. While it was important in his time to secure such a theological base for his theological anthropology, for a feminist postcolonial theology, it more important to acknowledge the heterogeneity of subject positions. In my view, the move to emphasizing the spirituality component of the Fundamental Option also has political significance here. What I mean here is that the spiritual content must deemphasize and yet protect subjectivity vis-à-vis human/divine relations and must be able to speak more to the (Christic) action of dying to self for love of neighbor. As Rahner’s critics have shown, it is not that Rahner does not possess such an understanding of mysticism leading to ethics; it is simply that his program needs to be intensified and strengthened. Such spirituality then would have to honor differences even as it depends on “love” to indicate ethical action. Rahner’s agenda requires amplification here and I suggest adding the strand that is provided by Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak’s postcolonial feminist position. The particular strand that Spivak adds (through her positive assessment of Derrida) is that every encounter also contains within it an excess that remains secret even in the most intentionally loving (and thus open to self-revelation) relationships. In the secret (mysterious) inability of sharing who one is, true ethical action depends on nothing less than love on the part of both parties—the one sharing as well as the one listening to the shared moment. Such love creates as well as sustains agency. Love is exactly what facilitates agency, because through such love, the gendered subaltern is guaranteed a space and a voice and ideal conditions in which she can speak and be heard.

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Love as the Singular Caress of the Gendered Subaltern
“Love” in Christian ethics historically was too easily tied to imperialist agendas of benevolence, which in the binary logic of civilized/savage paved the way for Christian missionary drives in colonial contexts. Additionally, “love of neighbor” and “Fundamental Option” tend to be too universalistic in their scope due to their reliance on anthropocentric frameworks, mitigating their real effects in particular contexts marked by agonism and ambiguity. Postcolonial feminist theorists, such as Spivak, conversely attempt to address the universalism of religious or Eurocentric proposals for love by insisting on the singular examples of embodied caress as “love” in the postcolonial context. It is evident therefore, after this investigation into postcolonial ethical thought, that it will continue to exist in opposition to Christian ethical proposals. In Rahner, for example, the universalistic proposition of ethical action in the idea of the Fundamental Option does not prevent the effacement and silencing of the poorest human beings in communities of discourse. In fact the Fundamental Option can only lead to highly problematic formulations of “solidarity” or even worse, “multiculturalism,” in the current era of competing identity formulations. It leads precisely to the positioning of subjects in discursive contexts ostensibly marked by inter-subjectivity, but is riven with continued marginalization of these very “subjects” who only have value in these contexts as “minorities” or “oppressed” or “powerless.” Whereas, for Rahner, the idea of the Fundamental Option protected and preserved human autonomy in a rapidly secularized world (which was his perception), today the Fundamental Option needs to preserve human agency in the rapidly complicated contexts of race, class, identity, and gender struggles. It is not responsible to “make” a Fundamental Option today without attention to these factors that impinge on all human beings, as we have come to realize or, to argue that one is given the Fundamental Option that can choose to ignore these dehumanizing forms of discrimination. While it may be possible to make the Fundamental Option to God, the Fundamental Option that we make for our neighbor must necessarily carry with it the consciousness of strategy. Further, in presenting the Fundamental Option, as a disposition in human beings to be found universally, the political value of the idea is far less than it can be. It would seem that a strategic presentation of love definitely preserves the concretizing aspect that postcolonial theology advocates.


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Concretizing ethical proposals is high on the agenda for contemporary Catholic theology. The Pope, in addressing all the faithful on love, unambiguously roots it in encounter: encounter between God and human being and between human beings themselves. It seems therefore, that the common ground that the Pope’s call to love, Spivak’s call to the fecundity of love as initiated by the gendered subaltern, and Rahner’s identification of love of God and human being all share is the notion of love being rooted in encounter. However, contrapuntal reading of the three agendas unmasks the use to which the notion is put in each agenda, dashing to the ground the hopes of a feminist postcolonial theologian that embodied ethical action by women can find a place in official (magisterial or papal) Catholic theology. The encyclical, for instance, while making an argument for concretizing “love” in the contemporary world, only does so in order to shore up traditional concerns of the Catholic Church. These traditional concerns remain unexamined by the institutional structures of the Catholic Church for their ill effects on women’s ability to participate in the institutional life of the Church other than in highly proscribed and constricted ways. In the encyclical, “love” problematically reinscribes sexual difference of a particular sort into the relationship between men and women. On the one hand, the encyclical stunningly draws attention to the manner in which Eros and Agape have been severed in the theological imagination of the Catholic Church; on the other, it seeks to essentialize gendered difference in a manner that safeguards the traditional concerns of the Church such as marriage and Marian theology. The encyclical makes a radical move in the manner that it articulates the relationship between Eros and Agape that have been separated in the past. Conceding therefore that “love” is an overused word (#2), the Pope argues that the most particular meaning of the word love is to be found in the unique encounter of man and woman: in the erotic relationship, man and woman grasp in some minute way the promise of eternal happiness of body and soul. In what may seem as a rather unique position for the official hierarchy, the Pope quite clearly wants to celebrate love as Eros.16 For postcolonial theology, the promise of retrieving Eros in this manner seems to be significant— the “fecund caress” of the gendered subaltern can have a starting point in the manner that gendered difference is bridged through the capacity for Eros in human beings. If Catholic theology can retrieve the unique agency of the gendered subaltern then the manner in which difference is conceived of in the postcolony can be modified to focus on relative difference instead of the violence of absolute difference.

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The Pope demonstrates awareness of the manner in which female energy was commodified in the past as enabling the building of bridges between separations and specifically condemns the use to which temple prostitutes were put. He is also aware that the problem of gendered difference is to be addressed by a positive interpretation of Eros. Predictably, however, he strategizes that gendered difference be addressed by Eros through a parallelism between monotheistic theology and monogamous marriage. Tellingly, the Pope reiterates the traditional stance of women’s role as “helper” (#11), showing up the encyclical to be primarily an address to a male community. The male community is exhorted to take up the work of love or charity, which is the primary work of the Church according to the Pope. Phyllis Zagano in a perceptive historical analysis shows that the Pope’s revisionist reading of Acts 6: 4–6 attempts to situate charity at the heart of the Church’s institutional foundation by erasing the presence of women from the early history of the institution. Thus, she points out, the Pope refers to the seven deacons to whom was assigned the specific ministry of charity. He is clear that by “charity” is not meant benevolence or any mechanical form of “equal” distribution. Charity, as Christian love was the specific task of the diaconate. However, argues Zagano, the manner in which the seven deacons were installed is an issue that the Pope does not dwell on. For feminists interested in the restoration of the female diaconate, the significant lines in Acts 6, v 4–5 read: “The proposal was acceptable to the whole community, so they chose (the seven). They presented these men to the apostles who prayed and laid hands on them” (see Zagano, 2006, 73). Thus, it was the apostles who laid hands on the seven, allowing for the possibility of the Catholic Church calling women to the diaconate. Zagano also presents historical evidence from scripture that proves that such a capacious imagination for ministry in the Church existed in early times—thus, after the seven came eight women: Phoebe (Rom, 16: 1–2); Tryphaena, Tryphosa, and Persis (Rom, 16:12); Euodia and Syntyche (Phil., 4: 2–3); Mary (Rom, 16.6); and Junia (Rom, 16:7) (Zagano, 2006, 74), who are clearly called forth by the apostles and were even apostles themselves. The works of charity that the Pope cites: love for widows and orphans, prisoners, and the sick and needy of every kind (#22,) were mostly ascribed to women, a point that he does not mention (Zagano, 2006, 74). The deliberate elimination of women save four: Louise de Marillac, Teresa of Calcutta (unordained, but exemplars of diaconal charity), Mary the mother of Jesus, and Elizabeth, her cousin, indicates that the Pope is not addressing the 50 percent of people who are


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female in the Catholic Church. Spivak would point out that such an erasure of the historical presence of women is both a symptom and a consequence of what she calls the “uterine norm of womanhood.” All of these women: de Marillac (a widow, the founder of the Daughters of Charity), Mother Teresa, Mary, mother of Jesus, and Elizabeth, mother of John, are value coded by the uterine norm. The named women have particular value for a masculinist and heterosexist ethics but are also, in their agential activity (which need not be denied), a product of such ethics. In my view, the encyclical is prophetic in its address to a male enclave. A celibate male priesthood that arose through the inscription of logics of exclusion may yet seek a new bridging of Eros and Agape in the near future with monogamous marriage being much more closely associated with the institutional priesthood. A married clergy would exemplify the Pope’s vision for the institutional Church in the twentieth century by addressing the sharp drop in numbers to the ordained ministry as well as to curb the perceived problem of homosexual men seeking admission to the ordained ministry. Eros in the hands of such an ethical agenda degenerates into “prurient heterosexist, male-identified ethics” (Spivak, 1993, 167) that leaves the gendered subaltern in a worse place than feminist benevolent theory. Further, the Pope’s encyclical makes a spirited plea for the Church to return to its primary commitment to each member of the ecclesial family where “no member should suffer through being in need” (#25). Nevertheless, he expresses profound dissatisfaction with Marxist philosophies claiming to work for justice (a secular value in his mind) instead of Love as caritas (the more theological value). The Pope’s sharp delineation between justice and love in Marxist theories is not borne out in the reading in Spivak: her Marxist critical framework is expressly not separating justice and love. Nevertheless, love in Spivak is not caritas—a disposition in the manner that the Pope or Rahner want to assert that it is. Here her emphasis on love as the strategy initiated by women is bound to stand in thorough opposition to masculinist norms in Catholic theology. Neither Rahner’s proposals to love nor the Pope’s presentation of Eros to challenge the lack of faith and commitment in a secularized world can secure a space for the actions and speech of the gendered subaltern. Even in the outlining of incarnational theology, the Pope’s emphasis is to delineate once again features of Catholic theology where gendered difference leads women to remain in the role of spectators. Love, or caritas is ultimately the purview of the Church, to be exercised in a “communitarian, orderly way” (#21) through the

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institutions of the diaconate and the episcopate. In so doing, the Church cannot join with any secular institution in the pursuit of justice—the “autonomy of the temporal sphere” maintains that the Church and the State exist as independent though interrelated spheres. Faith however, has a role in the critique of State in that it “purifies” reason and contributes to what is just in politics. In other words, the Church exists in prophetic relationship to the State. The Pope presents the Church as the humanizing force in a secularized world (#28, b) but it is not clear from his exposition whether the State can simultaneously exist in a prophetic relationship to the Church and critique the perceived lack of humanization within church structures. Another significant paradox facing postcolonial theology is the raising up of exemplars of ideal feminine types by the encyclical. On the one hand, Spivak would toss out the exemplars as symptoms and consequences of the uterine norm of womanhood as explained earlier. On the other, the exemplars do escape the strictures of the clerical establishment and set out a more complex terrain of women’s sacramental and embodied activity. Louise de Marrillac for example, writes Phyllis Zagano, “avoided the constrictions of enclosure usual to the vowed women at the time by creating a custom—adhered to by the Daughters of Charity to this day—of making annual vows instead of perpetual vows” (Zagano, 2006, 75). For Mother Teresa, love of Jesus and love of the poor were absolutely identified as one and her Missionaries of Charity “even more starkly renounce the comforts of monastic enclosure and move about to care for the poor in the most abject of situations.” It is no wonder therefore, that she becomes a model for the male clerical establishment that has lost sight of its priorities. In her actions of reaching out to the desperately poor, Mother Teresa, according to the encyclical, is able to counter the more “arid” relationship with God established by men in the performance of “devout” religious duties ( Deus Caritas Est, #18). Mary, the mother of God, another exemplar, does not “set herself at the center” and does not “carry out her own projects” but speaks and does the Word of God. As a woman who loves, through her “quiet gestures,” in her virginal purity, Mary is the prime example that an elite male establishment with its excesses of power and noncomprehension of Eros and Agape needs to heed. For the Pope, the exemplars derive their dynamism in their relationship to Christ. Their embodied actions are valuable insofar as this primary relationship is illuminated. For Spivak, “the garden of the incarnation” is full of thorns for women, and as we saw, she does not want to go there. But a postcolonial theological imagination can and must cultivate the


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garden of the incarnation, but it would seem that it has to be done in the middle of two opposing agendas: The Pope is convinced that the institutional Church is infused with the spirit of Christ (the mystery) that makes room to perform its ethics (including those by women) and Spivak is convinced that ethics infused with the interruptive potential of the caress of women may make room for the excess, the mystery. It is the coexistence of these divergent and contradictory modes of thinking about ethical action that is going to sharpen and hone ethical thought and action in the postcolonial context. Primarily, ethics in the postcolonial context is the embodied response in the face of vast exclusions and co-optations performed on the gendered subaltern. For example, Rahner’s existential ethics is so entrenched in his transcendental anthropological framework that even ethical action in the concept of the Fundamental Option loses any capacity to remain concrete and embodied and escapes into highly abstract theory. Concretizing this idea according to the theological community will require him to take into account cultural difference as well as spiritual practice that deepen the call to love one’s neighbor. Disarticulating his “concrete” ethical program requires that he demonstrate ethics as practice. The Pope in his presentation of the unity of Eros and Agape seems to be interested in the conversion of a dichotomized view of human sexuality, presumably in view of transforming the institution of an elite male priesthood. His narrow focus on gendered difference for a male, elite, and celibate institution does not provide for any other kinds of difference to challenge the exclusions of this institution. Preserving the unity between Eros and Agape in service of the male institution is of no use if women cannot use it for their own behalf. Disarticulating that analysis of Eros and Agape for feminist postcolonial ethics emphasizes the oppositional framework that feminists employ in dealing with ecclesiastical authorities. Postcolonial feminist theology will have to put the sacramental power of the gendered subaltern’s caresses into making visible the spaces she creates for herself. A truly heterogeneous multiplicity of ethical action is visible only when women can initiate ethical action for themselves, by themselves, with a political consciousness. Each attempt therefore by the gendered subaltern to interrupt the self-authorizing and self-serving movements of power is to be understood as the singular space of agency where a secret space of excess in the encounter leaves room for a theological imagination. In fact, Spivak’s insistence on heterogeneity

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demands that the postcolonial feminist theologian utilize this space to strategically counter the aggressively secularist nature of postcolonial ethical action in this manner. Utilizing the secret of excess to cultivate a mysticism of love presents itself as another creative possibility in the postcolonial context. As the next chapter demonstrates, postcoloniality and its systems of inclusions and exclusions can indeed incorporate a mystical basis to counter the particular problems of plurality in identity and ethics that are thrown up in our political consciousness. The process of ekstasis, going out of oneself in inclusivity and love were prefigured in anticolonial Indian political activity, resulting in the (im)possible fruit of nonviolent resistance.

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Chapter 4

Spirituality and N onviolent Polity in the Postcolony

I am a child of modern India and a non-believer myself. It has taken me many years to turn a traitor to my class—the urban, western-educated, modern Indians—and to learn to respect the people who have sustained Indian democracy using their tacit theories and principles of communal amity. That has not turned me into a believer but forced me to rediscover, study and reaffirm these theories and principles in my work during the last 20 years. In this effort, I have been guided by Gandhi’s maxim that those who think that religion has nothing to do with politics understand neither religion nor politics. I leave it to the next generation of South Asians living in South Asia to judge if it has been all a waste of time. —Ashis Nandy, “A Billion Gandhis,” Outlook India, 2004

ritical examination of postcolonial theory’s secular commitments is part of theological thinking in the postcolonial context. Bhabha and Spivak, as we have seen thus far; demonstrate strong commitments to secular forms of critical thinking. Ashis Nandy on the other hand is more of a maverick postcolonial theorist. He also demonstrates in his thought a distinctively contemporary Indian blend of tradition and modernity. He is a neo-Gandhian, a strong critic of secularism, and a spiritual seeker. For example, he makes suggestions toward possibility of mystical practice in the realm of politics specifically in the presentation of Gandhian Ahimsa.1 His analyses of the operations of power lead him to conclude that the specific commitment to Ahimsa (nonviolence as



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resistance) as a spiritual practice is absolutely significant in the project of political and cultural decolonization, in consequence, disarticulating spirituality from religion and secular theory from politics. This is not to claim that Nandy is a religious or theological thinker. He is a political thinker whose commitment to secular theory is rather different than Bhabha and Spivak’s. His emphasis on intercultural dialogue in India makes room for political practices that are spiritual and religious, especially if they are part of the traditional homespun response to colonial violence. As such, therefore, he presents the original response of faith to power. In this chapter, I present his scheme of ordinary faithcountering structures of colonial violence and evaluate it in light of the mystical practices of the ordinary as presented in Rahner. The mutually critical examination of mysticism in Roman Catholic theology in light of the requirement for practical theology in the context of power and violence yields a “mysticism of identity and a mysticism of personal love” that will necessarily make visible the political commitments of postcolonial theology and spirituality. As one of the foremost thinkers of contemporary India who has been on the vanguard of the project of “decolonizing the mind,” Nandy is uncomfortable with the label “postcolonial” and would point out that while his major critiques are against modernity (similar to postcolonial theory) he wants no truck with their intended project of removing all talk of metaphysics or transcendence in their corrective proposals. Right away, his project is at variance with Homi Bhabha’s. Nandy is keenly invested in parrying the thrusts of secular, modern theories with the idea of “countermodernities” that coexist in places different than the “West.” His performance of disarticulating theory from secularism is visionary in the contexts of violence and cultures of survival. His major attention in this regard is directed to the great discourses of self, other, world, and God in modernity by appealing to their premodern pasts. This is not to say that he is uncritically premodern, nostalgically recreating an atavistic past. Rather, his criticism of modernity takes care to note that many of its excesses are due to a detrimental devaluation of more “traditional” ways of thinking, being, and doing and supplanting these with the ideologies of secularism, technicism, and scientism. “Traditional” as Nandy uses the word, however, is “critical traditionalism,” the ability of vigorous cultural systems to change traditions in a traditional manner through a reliance on ordinary wisdom, religiosity, and spirituality. Nandy’s intuition in this regard is that religious commitment cannot be dismissed from talk of identity and ethics, which are questions that are significantly important

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for many other postcolonial theorists. As mentioned earlier, secular postcolonial theory as an offshoot of the critical theories of the Enlightenment simply presumes religion to belong to an uncritical phase of human development. Further, religion’s connection to violence and the propensity of religious authority to shore up institutional power has not been lost on it. However, it may be incumbent on postcolonial theory in our present historical context to provide analyses for how religious commitments play a part in the manner that identity, ethics, and democratic polity are to be negotiated in a world of war, violence, and terror. Of the three postcolonial theorists scrutinized in this study, Nandy is the most committed to overturning the binary of secular/religious in contemporary theory. The division of the secular/religious is for him a significant cause of the contemporary colonization of minds. Nandy’s critical traditionalism draws on the manner that the commonsensical and ordinary Indian utilized (and continues to utilize) the spiritual and religious resources at hand to counter the aggressive incursions of colonial and neocolonial violence. Nonetheless, his proposals do not result in substantive proposals that can ground a postcolonial theology as such. A vigorous theological agenda to counter the violence of the colonial context and its legacy is not present in his attempt to collapse the binary of secular/religious. Nonetheless, the idea that spiritual practice informs postcolonial theory in the project of decolonizing minds can be creatively used in postcolonial theology’s constructive proposals to develop spiritualities that reinforce the dualisms that Nandy bemoans. Nandy’s primary argument is that in the ordinary folksy resistance to colonial violence in India, Gandhian Ahimsa was an outgrowth of a spiritual and religious practice, offering a very complex path of resistance. For the colonized mind, such resistance would be deemed “failure,” for the fruits of such resistance were interpreted primarily as spiritual, having nothing to do with the political. Nandy consistently charts the manner in which such spiritual fruit yields tremendous gains in the political realm in the manner that it allows one to recreate the notion of the self, the other, the world, and God. Since Rahner has been the major dialogue partner in this endeavor thus far, the question that this section seeks to answer is whether Ahimsa and the mystical practice of Indiferençia2 can be associated. I will not attempt a simple coherent comparative “mysticism of nonviolence” here. The encounter of Nandy and Rahner however, will seek out those moments that will best advance the proposal of disarticulating theory and theology to decolonize minds. Mystical practice


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for postcolonial theology must necessarily provide for a spirituality that can counter the violence of colonial logic primarily by being able to provide a framework for self-purification and self-reflexivity. As argued in the previous two chapters, identity and ethics are key issues to be addressed by postcolonial and disarticulating theology. It must, for example, be able to negotiate between competing religious identities in the political sphere by providing for an internal mechanism of inclusivity that can defuse the violence of communal and competing identities. This is what I would call a “mysticism of identity” through which religions become positive resources to counter the rigid boundaries of modern constructions of identity. Second, it must provide for a way to negotiate gender in the political sphere that would allow for both the particularity of ethical action as an interruption and critique of homogenizing discourses that relegate the gendered subaltern to invisibility. Here a “mysticism of personal love” realizes its potential in the yearning grasp for God through the love of and for the most differently constructed other: the gendered subaltern. Finally, a language of the spirit that is employed daily by the millions of ordinary human beings whose subjectivity the academic theorists are interested in charting cannot remain hidden as the underside of secular forms of critique. Indeed, when searching for the ordinary response to colonial violence in India, the postcolonial thinker will find a religious and theological idiom at work aided by the Indian poly/theistic imagination. In the case of colonial India, for example, as Nandy asserts, it was M.K. Gandhi’s mystical-ascetical response to colonial power that infused the Indian bid for political liberation. There are many ways to read Gandhi in India. Nandy’s reading in my view provides the most creative presentation of the psychological and religiously hybrid moments in Gandhi’s method. Any reading of Gandhi that underscores the religious-ethical content, the aim of which is a spirituality of transformation of self and society, becomes a key source for postcolonial theology.3 Perhaps in the dialogue with his mystical-ethical program of transformation the postcolonial theologian can chart the necessary ways in which Rahner’s mystical-spiritual theology (his spiritual writings on freedom) can be disarticulated from its ecclesiocentric moorings to ground an incarnational and political ethics. However, Rahner’s mystical-spiritual program will attempt to disarticulate Nandy’s proposals for its soft take on spiritual practice. The contrapuntal reading hence charts the reception of these contemporary texts in the present context of complex identity and ethical global relations.

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Decolonizing the Mind and the Spirit
The antidote to modernity with its hegemonic and dehumanizing discourses on science, technology, progress, development, and secularity is the critical retrieval of premodern modes of organic living in community as a form of countermodernity. In a sentence, this is Ashis Nandy’s credo underscoring the agenda of decolonizing the mind and disarticulating modernity from its triumphalistic self-perception. The emphasis on critical retrieval does not allow for a simple restating of premodern modes of living, thinking, and being in the modern context. It is more a reworking of the content of modernity, drawing lines of continuity with India’s precolonial past. The idea is also not that one portends a return to some atavistic history. Nandy’s focus is on those forms of premodernity that exist alongside of the aggressively modern discourses of science and nationalism. Science and nationalism which are identified by him as continuing the colonial legacy of violence are forms of modernity that need to be countered by resistant forms of critical traditionalism grounded in practices of faith. As his commentators remark,4 Nandy is not just concerned with a problematic history of European colonization and expansion. He is concerned with the heritage of colonialism and its present new forms. These forms are manifested as neocolonialism, economic and cultural globalization and the proliferation of multinational corporations to which many democratically elected governments are hostage around the world. European colonial expansion programs moreover are fueled by the uncritical assumption that “modernity” in its European form is always progress. Nandy excoriates this view of modernity as hopelessly provincial and self-seeking. In retrieving premodern nonEuropean forms of living, thinking, and being, Nandy demonstrates that cultures trying to resist the onslaught of European colonialism negotiate alternatives that can simply exist as “other” modernities side by side with the European version. The aim of his analysis is to show that the alternative to modernity is not the reaction to modernity that one may facilely seek; it is rather the creation and sustaining of other modernities that crop up as alternatives to the disabling logics undergirding present forms of oppression. Paradoxically, however, the creation of alternative modes of modernity creates a dissonant form of resistance where the colonized culture seems to consent to particular forms of exclusion and oppression. The charting of the ambivalent and contradictory moments therefore is important to Nandy. The ambivalence, according to Nandy occurs, as a strategy for survival. Resistance to the more dehumanizing aspects of


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globalizing logics may demonstrate capitulation to some of these logics. Hence, the project of decolonizing the mind is an ongoing one. This project takes into account those paradoxical forces that are alternatively attracted and repulsed by colonial logics, while emphasizing those qualities that create and sustain the alternative to European forms of modernity. Whereas some would see hopeless contradictions and oppositional logics in this form of cultural resistance, Nandy argues that there is something more interesting afoot. Colluding with the colonizing power creates competing forms of modernity, and interrupting colonial power’s self-authorized supremacy by drawing on personal, religious, and hybrid traditional sources results in the alternative version. The method employed is to dismantle competing binaries that shore up colonial logic so that the dynamic tension between the two poles throws into relief the creative and self-sustaining impulses of the colonized culture. Nandy’s corpus is also a sustained critique on Western knowledges that seek to promote disciplinary boundaries in the interests of creating, sustaining, and disseminating colonial logics. In addressing the violent exclusions of Western knowledges, Nandy points out that the method of such disciplining requires restraining heterogeneity and pluriformity in service of uniformity and homogeneity. In opposition, he advocates “ecological thinking” (Lal, 2000, 11) that seeks organic wholeness for the self, the other and the world (nature and culture), which will lead us to embrace plural realities. Ecological thinking in Nandy’s view is absent in the scientific rationality of the West in its disciplining forms. The push to conform and homogenize blinds colonial authority to acknowledge the possibility of creative responses to the reality of power. Ecological thinking as the method of the ordinary person who is seeking to survive the onslaught of colonial coercion at once repelled and attracted by the entrenched violence of the process, allows them to hold in tension the contradictory decisions to react and respond to disciplining power. Often, ecological thinking requires the careful dissolution of the binary structures that shore up colonial logic and contains a layered critique of the colonized and colonizing cultures, grounded in a theory of transcendence to provide legitimacy for that critique. It draws on the language of asceticism, ethical response in love for all things and God. In the ordinary Indian context, this method has been given the name “Ahimsa” and is modeled on M.K. Gandhi’s political mysticism. Ahimsa therefore is a response to the boundary creation of the disciplining West in the engendering of exclusivist identity frameworks. In the final analysis, Ahimsa is the only response that can

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secure for the subaltern any possibility of a humane response to the violence of colonial exclusions. It is in such a spirit of nonviolent inclusive thinking that Nandy analyzes the colonial experience—the colonizers are not one single and easily identifiable group of people; they are complex beings from complex and heterogeneous cultural and political traditions. Thus, they are not unambiguously “evil” and neither are the colonized unambiguously “innocent.” Colonial relations in his evaluation are the examination of the dynamic relationship between the two with specific psychological, cultural, and political worldviews impacting the relationship. In his presentation of the colonizers in India, for example, he takes care to explain how a particular way (by particular is meant provincial) of conceptualizing the self led to the violent developments of colonial rule in its universalizing mode. This “self,” purveyed as automatically superior culturally, religiously, and politically, depended on a psychological and religious mechanism that degraded and downplayed the culture of the conquered. An awareness of how spirituality and religiosity play a significant role in the construction of the modern Western self permeates Nandy’s thought. Consider the following claim for example (Ashis Nandy, 1983, 12):
Colonizers, as we have known them in the last two centuries, came from complex societies with heterogeneous cultural and ethical traditions . . . it is by underplaying some aspects of their culture and overplaying others that they built the legitimacy for colonialism. For instance, it is impossible to build a hard, this-worldly sense of mission on the tradition to which St. Francis of Assisi belonged: one perforce has to go back to St. Augustine and Ignatius of Loyola to do so.

The awareness that the colonizers themselves came from diverse and complex environments creates a much more complex picture of colonial evil and violence. Consequently, for Nandy, the awareness of such complexity does not lead to any simplistic solutions for decolonization and the response to colonial violence. Precisely because he can imagine the colonial world to be multilayered, Nandy does not automatically discard the religious and “other-worldly” emphasis in contrast to Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak. The constructive, disarticulating, theological turn depends on such a realization. If, according to my reading, Nandy is asserting that a Franciscan emphasis on spirituality and union with God through the suffering Christ provides us with the best way to practically engage the violence of the colonial context, then we have a theological basis to analyze Nandy’s theories of oppression. In


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other words, a theory of oppression in the postcolonial context requires not only a sophisticated mechanism to comprehend the particular violence that is attributed to it; it also requires us to attend to those modes of response to such violence that are grounded in spirituality. Hence, imperialism, whether in the past or in the present, can be countered by carefully retrieving those deemphasized aspects of the culture. Nandy’s awareness of the deemphasized aspects of Western culture and those aspects of Indian modernity that attempt a continuity between the past and the present of modernity results in the foregrounding of what he calls a “language of the spirit.” In my assessment, it is his “language of the spirit” that can bring us to the possibility of a contrapuntal reading of Nandy and a theologian of mysticism such as Karl Rahner. This politicized reading yields postcolonial theological insights by reclaiming the language of transcendence for political purposes. Nandy as we shall see, brilliantly retrieves Gandhi’s Ahimsa in this manner, but shies away from standing within a theological tradition unlike Gandhi. Rahner can contribute here. I have argued in the previous two sections that identity and politics have to be reconceptualized in the political context provided by postcoloniality, which is also inclusive of religious and theological claims. Here, “identity” in a Roman Catholic mode argues for an ekstasis of identity formations to be inclusive of other identities. This move counters the violence of rigidly constructed identities and the claim of mutually exclusive truths. In the third chapter, I presented the notion that ethics in the context of postcoloniality has no relevance unless gendered difference is saturated with “love.” Rahner’s framework, similar to the traditional formulations of Catholic theology, cannot accommodate such a requirement. However, one of the challenges to his version of existential ethics from within the wider Roman Catholic community was to emphasize those moments of mystical and incarnational relation that would enable ethics to be much more concrete. Mysticism is the ekstasis toward God, out of the rigidity of self-identity, and mysticism is the ekstasis out of the self-authorized position of power into the sincere empathy for the otherness of the gendered subaltern. Mysticism in the context of postcoloniality therefore needs a practice, and it is here that Rahner is useful. Nandy is antisecular and forwards the idea of “critical traditionalism” in order to counter the debilitating secularism of theories of cultural oppression. As such therefore, he stands in opposition to both Homi Bhabha and Spivak. Postcolonial theories of oppression including Homi Bhabha’s idea of hybridity of identity and Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak’s concept of strategic essentialism in ethical action come out

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of the realization that a theory of culture necessarily informs the construction of postcolonial political, cultural, and religious identity and ethics. At the heart of both postcolonial efforts to counter colonial oppression is the plea to preserve cultural, gendered, and religious plurality in a world struggling with homogenizing discourses. The theoretical foundations of both critiques are to be found in Nandy’s early work—his outlining of Gandhi as a religious hybrid (Gandhi claimed to have multiple religious identities) in a work as early as 1983 (The Intimate Enemy) as well as the strategic deployment of gender identity as part of a strategy of resistance has clearly influenced South Asian critics of modernity.5 Nandy is one of the first postcolonial theorists to assert that there is a “homology between sexual and political dominance” that was put into use by Western colonial powers (Nandy, 1983, 4) and that a “cult of masculinity” fostered the colonial enterprise. Nandy reads Gandhi as confounding this logic in which the colonized were seen as “child-like” and “feminine” by cultivating a deliberate child-like femininity that drew on the much more expanded ideas of masculinity, femininity, and androgyny present in Indian culture. In other words, Gandhi valorizes female gender identity in a novel way to counter cultic masculine colonial power.6 Nandy, however, goes one step further than Bhabha and Spivak in asserting that a “language of the spirit” is not to be removed from cultural criticism. This is most clearly seen in his essay “Cultural Frames for Social Transformation: A Credo” (Nandy, 2004) which is arguably one of his clearest presentations of his method. His methodology informs his sustained criticisms of secularism, Hindu nationalism, scientism, and the politics of knowledge. The constructive vision he espouses has to do with a view of the future in which the language of spirit and transcendence transform the multiple structures of violence that can be charted in the postcolonial context. The language of the spirit is not the presentation of spirituality as such. Instead, it allows for the articulation of cultural criticism with traditional idiom such as popular religiosity. This section therefore outlines the manner in which Nandy sketches how theories of transcendence can fruitfully undergird critical thought. There are three foci to Nandy’s critical traditionalism. First, there is great skepticism directed toward the discourses of the nation-state (Nandy, 2004, 27). In other words, the modern construction of identity organized in the idea of the “nation” draws great skepticism from Nandy. Postcolonial independence, which created the nation-state called India, did not bring true liberation, freedom, or agency to its


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citizens in this view. Instead, as Nandy points out, what we have are ever more rigidly drawn lines of inclusion and exclusion through which minoritized groups are resolutely marginalized or displaced in service of the “identity” of the nation. Further, nationalistic discourses hide the tremendous corruption, violence, expropriative, ethnocidal, and ecocidal tendencies inherent in the construction of homogenous identities. In fact, according to Nandy, the examination of the culture of “statism” is a crucial clue to the manner that democracy functions to marginalize and oppress (Nandy, 2002, 37). In the Indian context therefore, Nandy’s criticism of the culture of State turns on the three prevalent images of the State—as protector, as modernizer or liberator, and as an arbiter of social relationships. Such “statism” engenders in the first place an authoritarian image of the state vis-à-vis foreign groups on the one hand and a ruthless protection of the “mainstream culture” with regard to ethnic and peripheral cultures within the state. In its modernizing aspect, statism makes traditional Indian culture the antonym of modernity, encouraging a dualistic mindset in which power becomes associated only with the state and culture simply associated with retrogression and obscurantism. As an arbiter of social relationships, statism has positive as well as negative consequences—on the one hand, traditional caste divisions were reinforced since caste still remained the unit of mobility as it used to be in the traditional Indian society, and on the other, it opened up the social order through participatory democracy. However, the negative impact of those who seek to secure power as newer and less privileged members seek participation leads in Nandy’s view to a vicious cycle of hostility and coercive methods inhibiting membership (Nandy, 2002, 46). His analysis argues that the creation of the nation-state actively erodes participatory democracy in the manner that it aggressively polices the boundaries of identity. The construction of the nation-state on the basis of “majority” religious identity also brings Nandy grief. As shall be presented later, explicit religious identity in service of the nation-state is a highly suspicious move for him since it simply forwards the agenda of statism. Second, Nandy is extremely skeptical about the methods of modern science (Nandy, 2004, 27). Modern science in his estimation has become the model of domination and the justification for institutionalized violence. Modern science also fuels the competitive capitalist culture of contemporary statism. It fails to engage with the critique of scientism, technicism, and the paucity of the scientific imagination in general. These ideas are elaborations of earlier thoughts on the notion of science as a “reason” of state by Nandy (1988, 1–23). Scientism

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and technicism are utilized by statism to perform violences as insidious as the creation of superbombs in the form of “bureaucratization of human suffering” and through the principle of clinical iatrogeny which dupes the middle classes to applaud its excesses (21–22). In actively colluding with the violent agenda of the nationstate, modern science simply has failed to live up to its promises of a better life for the vast majority of human beings. The violence engendered by science is particularly painful for those who are victims of the double-edged sword of scientism—those who have been displaced through development efforts or forced migration to the industrial centers of the nation-state. In face of these concerns, Nandy advocates that a “cognitive indifference” (14) may give rise to “nonviolent science” which is a syncretic, hybrid structure that incorporates modern and premodern forms (17), allowing for a more symbiotic relationship between nature and human community. Finally, he directs his skeptical analysis toward the “larger forces of history” on which the fatalistic blame is laid for the ills of a democratic society. In other words, Nandy is more interested in the kind of historical narrative that roots responsibility in the individual and their decisions in light of the so-called larger forces of history (Nandy, 2004, 28). Here, in explicitly alluding to Gandhi, Nandy argues for a personal morality informing political (and religious) life. Accountability was Gandhi’s criterion for humane politics and humane religiosity, and he emphasized that he would not ask the British what could not be demanded of the Indians first. This argument Nandy expands into the systemic and structural:
. . . Third World societies usually maintain within their borders exactly the same violent, exploitative, ethnocidal systems which they confront in the larger world: the same center and periphery, the same myth that the sacrifices made by people in the short run will lead to the beatitude of development and scientific advancement in the long run, the same story of over-consuming elites fattening themselves to early death at the center and starvation, victimhood and slow death at the periphery. Because of this, the demands of the Third World for more equitable and just terms in North-South exchanges often sound dishonest or hollow. (29)

The Gandhian model of political intervention that Nandy espouses stresses that the systemic analyses we engage in can be extended to the individual level to judge accountability by first modeling the manner in which we intervene in the world in the same manner that we intervene in our own self and second by acknowledging that systemic structures are simply duplicating what we do to our selves. Hence, the


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Gandhian mode of intervention investigates the symbiotic relationship of oppressor and oppressed arguing that what is being done to one is what is what one is capable of doing to oneself and others. Hence, the principle of accountability does not allow us to investigate just the “oppressor” or the “colonizer”: agency is to be located not in the manner that one group exerts control of the other but in the manner that both collusion and resistance can be charted in the colonized. The theory of oppression that is engendered thus has to do with accountability, resistance to those ideologies of modern science and technology as well as resistance toward the exclusivist demands of nationalistic ideology. To aid such a complex theory of oppression, Nandy avers that three languages ordinarily employed in India for the purpose of survival and resistance in the context of colonial and neocolonial oppression need to be appreciated and decoded (Nandy, 2004, 25). Best seen in the effects of religious hybridity, these languages encourage systemic critique precisely because they reinterpret the canonical and the sacred. Gandhi for example, points out Nandy, uses the language of continuity—a premodern and nonscientific analogical language to develop the idea of Ahimsa. As a hybrid idea, developed from Gandhi’s exposure to Christianity, Jainism, and Hinduism, Ahimsa presents a nonengagement, which is to say that it reflects a cognitive indifference with the analytic categories of modernity and introduces the possibility of a more capacious perception of concepts such as identity, knowledge, and ethics. Since it is continuous with a historical cultural heritage, Ahimsa allows for multiple knowledges to coexist with modern forms of knowing. The language of continuity is complemented by the language of the spirit in the insistence on speaking with the voice of the pain of the oppressed. Cognitive indifference thus allows one to cultivate empathy. Such a focus of the language of spirit is then able to articulate a set of values that runs countercultural to society and culture at large; it is rejecting of the “modern” categories of science and rationality arguing that these concepts fuel the logic of colonialism and neocolonialism and finally, rejecting of the idea of renunciation if merely spiritual and having nothing to do with politics or civic relations. (Nandy, 2004, 24–25). Nevertheless, the “language of the spirit” for Nandy is not spiritualism; it is more the engagement with the violences of modernity by developing an agenda for transformation of the self. Transformation of the self is the final step of a theory of oppression. Nandy’s critical frames of reference take into account the psychic

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makeup of colonizers and colonized. Here, any coherent theory of oppression must take into account not only the theory of the self that is generated in the colonial context; it must also take into account the manner in which the self and its overweening importance are subsumed for another higher ideal such as nation building, development, or secularism. Awareness of the self hence also leads to the careful realization of that which is the “not-self.” Both theories of self together, form, in Nandy’s view, a more “sensitive” account of the self-in-society and one that Gandhi emphasized as the “spiritual work” to be done in the face of gargantuan systems of oppression. For Gandhi there is definitely the emphasis on the dynamic relation between practice and theory in that a theory of the self that did not yield a theory of the “not-self” had no real value in civic and political life. If one did not possess these theories of self in tandem then one would not be able to possess cognitive indifference in the face of the lures of modernity. The three “languages” informing Ahimsa of continuity, spirit, and self are absolutely essential for theorists of oppression, who simply replicate the problematic frameworks of the dominant academy leading them to be subsumed into disciplined dissent. Nandy is extremely critical of such elitism. In this view, Ahimsa is nonviolence, and such nonviolence must be evident in the practices of the academy. This reading of Ahimsa thoroughly permeates Nandy’s goal to be a nondualistic and nondisjunctive thinker and he succeeds in great part in this regard. Ahimsa therefore is the concretizing of cognitive indifference. However, the language of continuity, spirit, and self in Gandhi at least, is manifested in spiritual and ascetic practices that enhance communal life. In eschewing the practical spiritual aspect of Ahimsa, I believe that Nandy has lost the core understanding of Ahimsa as spiritual purification that is clearer in Gandhi. The particular reason of why Nandy leaves it to others to present a practical spiritual guideline for Ahimsa will be presented later in this chapter. The concern here is to demonstrate that the critical traditionalism that Nandy espouses loses its cutting edge when abstracted from the process of spiritual becoming in the manner that Gandhi insisted. Nandy’s presentation of Ahimsa is the ground of his presentation of Critical traditionalism, but insufficiently acknowledges its religious and spiritual dimension. Ahimsa in Gandhi’s thought unambiguously is a spiritual concept that undergirds spiritual practice. Gandhi claimed that its roots lay partly in the Jain tradition to which he had been exposed as a child. The Jain concept of Ahimsa involves three actions: one should do no harm mentally, verbally, or physically to oneself, one should not be harmed by another and; one should not support the


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harm done by others. Ten virtues attend it—supreme forgiveness, supreme humility, supreme honesty, supreme contentment, supreme truth, supreme self-control, supreme austerities, supreme renunciation, supreme nonattachment, and supreme chastity. This specifically religious idea of Ahimsa in Gandhi’s thought begins to take on an ecological cast as well. Ahimsa is not just spiritual practice of selfpurification; it is a way of relating in the world to all created reality. The disjunctive analytics of modernity are thrown into relief when one employs such a practice of holism. Identity for example therefore is finding one’s place in a cosmos. Critical thinking is aided by Ahimsa in that it seeks to address precisely the violence of modern thought that erodes the holistic manner that identity is constructed. In terms of ethical thought, making connections to what is distinct and separate, bridging the gaps as it were, is the focus of Ahimsa. Thus, how one conceives of oneself and one’s community must necessarily be related to a larger cosmic reality; how one narrates one’s story of the past must necessarily be tinged with a forgiving and forgetful compassion, and third, the task of self-purification is not in service merely of an other-worldly telos but of a this-worldly, immediate one. The idea of Ahimsa was not received well in the hypernationalistic mood of pre-Independence India. Where communal identities (Hindu, Muslim) were being hyperdifferentiated in service of a putative unified national identity or mobilized in view of anticolonial discursive strategies, Ahimsa with its confounding of identity categories seemed to be antinationalistic and destructively passive in the face of British military strength. National identity for Gandhi however, was not a unified “strong” and singular identity. In Gandhi’s hands, identity became multiple, hybrid, contradictory, and inconsistent. Further, in confounding the militaristic dichotomies of nationalism with its hypermasculine discourse, Gandhi presented Ahimsa as closer to the feminine through its repudiation of overt violence and identification with stereotypically female “weakness.” Nandy is clear that Gandhi is performing a strategic retrieval of femininity by resorting to an ancient Indian code that positively evaluated androgyny instead of just masculinity or femininity. Moreover, for Indian men, their loss of perceived masculinity was achieved not through recourse to hypermasculinity; it was achieved through embracing the feminine within.7 Deployed in hybrid and gendered categories, Ahimsa began to sound like a passive, receptive, feminine stance according to some. Some others accused it of being a Christian import because Gandhi maintained often that he arrived at conceptualizing the idea through his reading of Christian sources. Consider Gandhi’s response to Lala

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Rajpat Rai’s accusation against the idea of Ahimsa, which first appeared in The Modern Review in July of 1916:8
I do not know how far the charge of unmanliness can be made good against the Jains. I hold no brief for them. By birth I am a Vaishnavite, and was taught Ahimsa in my childhood. I have derived much religious benefit from Jain religious works, as I have from the other great faiths of the world. I owe much to the living company of the deceased philosopher Raja Chand Kavi who was a Jain by birth. Thus though my views on Ahimsa are a result of my study of most of the faiths of the world, they are no longer dependent upon the authority of these works . . . Our shastras seem to teach that a person who really practices Ahimsa in its fullness has the world at their feet, they so affect their surroundings that even the snakes and other venomous reptiles do them no harm. This is said to have been the experience of St. Francis of Assisi.

Gandhi’s ecological worldview therefore was a result of an underlying insight that allowed him to be indifferent to the lures of modernity. This insight had to do with the ecological view of all things—creation as one under God. In turn, the ecological view engendered nonviolence within the person who possessed the insight. Francis of Assisi becomes the paradigmatic icon of Ahimsa. In confounding the modern bases of identity and ethics, Ahimsa challenges the practitioner to rethink the violent categories of modernity. With regard to gender, it is clear that Nandy wants to retrieve the traditional Indian emphasis on Naritva, which colonial India lost in its encounter with the colonial West. Nandy, as we have seen, through the emphasis on continuity, spirituality, and self-critique, and in his search beyond the disabling dichotomies of modernity, is thoroughly invested in the program of nonviolence. However, nonviolence for him is to be mainly developed as cognitive indifference in the face of discursive, political, cultural, and social violence. For postcolonial theologians, the idea of spiritual indifference on the other hand has much more to do with cultivating a specific attitude before God that then needs development with regard to a more political and critical agenda. The cultivation of a spiritual practice as the basis for Ahimsa as cognitive indifference is absent in Nandy. Can the spiritual cultivation of indifference create the conditions for cognitive indifference in the manner that Nandy advocates? I believe that this is a specifically theological agenda for postcolonial theologians. Hence, we turn here to Rahner again—postcolonial Indian Roman Catholic theologians in examining the received tradition can engage this strand with a view to braiding a postcolonial theological spirituality for communal life and tolerance in India. The reading of Rahner thus far has


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argued that progressive strands within contemporary Roman Catholic theology can provide the sort of corrective that the critiques of secularism demand. Particularly, the call for a spirituality of the everyday and the ordinary seems to resonate with Rahner’s presentation of the mysticism of the everyday. Could such mysticism however be the basis of the spiritual practice that attends critical traditionalism and the goal of decolonizing the spirit? In other words, the idea here is to question whether an explicitly spiritual methodology can hold up to the complex demands for political involvement in the postcolonial context in one such as Rahner.

I NDIFERENÇIA as the “Mysticism of Everyday”
What does a “mysticism of everyday” look like? For postcolonial theology, it is important that the taint of elitism be avoided in the presentation of spirituality especially in the manner that spirituality must realize the goal of “decolonizing the spirit.” Moreover, such spirituality must possess an inner logic to be developed for a political agenda. Next, such practice must concretize the themes that we have been charting thus far—a spirituality that can counter the more debilitating effects of modern identity and an ethics that is attentive to gendered experience in the world. The relevant theological themes that we will look at are the manner in which we cultivate trust, love, and right relation. Retrieving Rahner for such a project is a daunting task. I argue, however, that his focus on a practical and pastoral wisdom to guide spirituality permits such retrieval in part. A primary task of “decolonizing the spirit,” by which is meant foregrounding the emphasis on ethical relation, is to show that in the ethical dimension of Rahner’s theological proposals, love of God and love of neighbor are not to be separated even if they are not to be completely identified with each other. While dependence on God can actively work against the stereotypes of weakness, failure, surrender, passivity, and death, Rahner’s ideas still remain within a stringently Christian theological space, even as he tries to concretize human dependence on God. He does not formulate the causal connection between weakness, failure, surrender, passivity, and death with the dehumanizing conditions of colonial subjugation or conquest for example, but understands them more as elements of the existential condition of highly secularized Western societies. Rahner therefore claims that mysticism has two objectives—the goal of union with God and the formation of a basis for ethical action in love in one’s life. I would argue that such a focus is ripe for development for a postcolonial theology of mysticism and politics.

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Such a mystical-ethical basis for human action, moreover, has the result of lessening the effects of alienation that modern humans feel. Ethics understood through the lens of Indiferençia counters the reification of material norms for ethical action. Rahner here is arguing against the secular move to ground ethical action in solely humanist goals such as justice and equality. There is no doubt that he succeeds greatly in this effort. Nevertheless, for a postcolonial theology that pays particular attention to ethical relation in the face of unequal and violent power, Rahner’s suggestions do not go far enough to secure agency nonviolently (or to put it another way, lovingly) for the postcolonial (and gendered) subaltern, especially with regard to the states of weakness, surrender, and passivity that are brought about by the political subordination of an imperial power. This necessitates a constructive move on the part of a postcolonial theology, which can bring the above issues to bear on Rahner’s theology. When we push Rahner to demonstrate how the unity of love of God and love of neighbor leads to an incarnational love in the context of imperial violence and abuse of power, Rahner’s specifically Christian ethics does not go far enough even though some interpret him in this way. It is a truism to assert that Rahner’s interpreters go beyond Rahner in a way that he might have resisted. Consider this excerpt from “An Ethics of Faith” by James F. Bresnahan in A World of Grace in which Bresnahan argues that through the reality of the supernatural existential, all truly moral acts reflect the presence of the grace of Christ:
Rahner’s theories of the Supernatural existential and of faith that can be anonymously Christian . . . (have) implications for ethics. These theological theories based on God’s universal salvific will for all human beings and its focus for all in Jesus Christ, propose that every human person who reaches awareness of the basic moral ideal of love knows Christ, the exemplar of this ideal, even if not by name. Any human person who is in fact living out this moral ideal at the level of the Fundamental Option, however inadequately the person may express this basic love in acts, is actually empowered to do so by grace that is grace of Christ, shaping the person in the likeness of Jesus. (Bresnahan, 1980, 169–184)

Every human being who attempts to live in ethical right relation according to Rahner’s logic ought to be recognized to have an implicit and unthematic knowledge of Christ, even though they may not have any need to confess such a proposition. In other words, in people who are anonymously Christian, grace is present in the manner


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in which they seek to “love,” making their action an imitation of Christ. Bresnahan goes on to argue that it is incumbent upon a contemporary Christian ethics to investigate the anonymous nature of non-Christian ethics personified in people such as M.K. Gandhi:
Consequently, an explicitly Christian revised natural-law ethics can pursue its essential and existential tasks with a radical openness to the moral experience of non-Christians and to their versions of ethics. Christ as an embodiment and source of the moral ideal will be found there, though in forms which need further interpretation. Indeed, Christ may be found in ways that historical Christian ethics in the West has neglected. For instance, Gandhi’s non-violent search for truth or Hinduism’s profound reverence for all living things can summon explicitly Christian ethics to renewed reflection on how love can be creative in action. (Bresnahan, 1980, 182)

In the above excerpt, what is important is Bresnahan’s assertion that Rahner’s notion of the supernatural existential and anonymity of faith essentially must also reflect an openness to “other” ethical systems, especially Hinduism.9 Such an openness would be a hallmark of the “catholicity” of the supernatural existential. Further, if Rahner’s thesis is true, then even (or especially) in all instances of violence, the effects of the supernatural existential must be shown to result in concrete actions of “love.” To Rahner’s credit, he is cognizant of the fact that people attempting to live in right ethical relation are living as “anonymous Christians.” However, how such anonymous Christianity counters deep structural violence is not part of his reflection. Rahner therefore requires development in this regard. In order to advance Rahner’s ethical program, it is necessary to demonstrate the form that an incarnational love will take in the face of violence. The idea of Indiferençia as Rahner presents it is a Christian idea rooted in the mystical theology of Ignatius of Loyola, who embodied for Rahner the Christic principle of love of God and love of neighbor. It is interesting to recall in this regard, Nandy’s dismissive gesture towards Ignatius of Loyola. The postcolonial theologian would argue contra Nandy that the Christian tradition must be presented in its internal diversity in the postcolonial context. Hence, reading Rahner as positively retrieving the “other-worldly” elements in Loyola for mystagogy10 is part of the constructive exercise. Rahner also takes pains to assert that Indiferençia is not simply limited to pious individual experiences11 but has a wider social scope. For this reason, Indiferençia is the basis for contemporary spirituality that is not simply contemplation but contemplation in action in the world.

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Indiferençia can therefore also be a positive resource for the postcolonial agenda—similar to Gandhi’s argument for a spirituality that can inform politics—it does not separate the “other-worldly” from the “this-worldly.” Nandy’s disregard for such contemplative practices therefore reveals that he is covertly dependent on a rather modern reading of the category of religion. The experiential focus of mysticism as spiritual practice bears fruit in the manner that it moves us to love of God and neighbor. Rahner defines mysticism as the “radical experience of faith, which destroys the conceptual and the categorical insofar as these claim to be ultimate realities.”12 For postcolonial theology, in other words, cognitive indifference is arrived at through a practice of mystical and spiritual indifference. Mysticism is the experience whereby we are able to go beyond the merely categorical and propositional either with our own experience or our experience of God. In the essay titled “Everyday Mysticism,” Rahner asserts that a Christian theology of mysticism is specifically answerable for explicating how the “real basic phenomenon of mystical experience of transcendence” (Rahner, 1985, 70) is present in every act of Christian life, in faith, hope, and love. Thus, the transcendental experience of “absolute nearness” of God needs to be made clear in the mystic’s experience of “ordinary” grace and faith. Harvey Egan, in this regard, asserts that what Rahner wants to underscore here is the fact that God’s self-communication to all persons is experiential (Egan, 1998, 55). In other words, all human beings experience God because God grasps them first, though for some it happens in a rather hidden manner. Mysticism is the courage to enter into a relationship with God who is a personal, holy, loving mystery and whom we address in the acknowledgment of an essential difference between creator and creature as a “Thou.” It is therefore an experience of openness, otherness, and transcendence in the attempt to grasp the wholly other.13 Rahner wants to secure for all human beings the capacity to be grasped by God and therefore receive God. For postcolonial theology, the metaphysical realist argument for God’s agency in mysticism needs to be demonstrated for the development of cognitive indifference. Indiferençia is the proper disposition for developing and cultivating cognitive indifference to aid critical thought. Obviously, this discussion is a Christian discussion, limited to the concerns of Roman Catholic theology. In terms of the constructive proposal for a postcolonial theology, “mysticism” requires expansion into a complex multicultural and multireligious context. Rahner would deny that any experience of the numinous is a genuinely


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religious one (Endean, 2001, 63). The question facing postcolonial theology is more complex: what does mysticism look like in a theory of oppression for a world of plurality? In a sense, this question is the underlying problem of the first two chapters as well. Thus, in chapter 1, the constructive theological turn is to understand conversion as cultural and political inclusivity, given the horizon of grace, and in the second, it is incarnating love as the ethical one-on-one caress as the sacrament of the mystery of grace in the crosscultural encounter of gendered human beings. In this final chapter, Rahner’s commitment to a Christian and Catholic concept of mysticism is evaluated in light of the colonial experience of violence. The argument that will be developed here is an intensification of his program to dissolve dualisms (especially the dualism of nature and grace), where all mystical experience is an experience of grace. Two classic excerpts elucidate what Rahner means by mysticism more clearly. The first one is the experience of the Holy Spirit:
There has been and there is mysticism. Here, those who have been so privileged said and continue to say that either in a sudden awakening or in a long and gradual ascent they experience grace, God’s immediate proximity, union with him in the Spirit, in a holy night or in blessed light, in a void silently filled by God, and, at least at the moment of the mystical experience itself, cannot doubt their experience of the immediate proximity of the self-communicating God as effect and reality of God’s sanctifying grace in the depth of their existence: in other words, as “experience of the Holy Spirit.” (TI: 18, “Experience of the Holy Spirit,” 189–209)

In the essay from which this excerpt is taken, Rahner goes on to maintain that “mystical experience” is not at all the sole purview of elite practitioners. Rather, one can observe in the most innocuous of decisions that are to be made everyday by ordinary people a vision of our basic unity with God. In the second excerpt a different focus of the idea of mysticism in Rahner comes into view:
It must be realized that in the earthly human being this emptying of self will not be accomplished by practicing pure inwardness, but by real activity which is called humility, service, love of our neighbor, the cross and death. One must descend into hell together with Christ; lose one’s soul, not directly to the God who is above all names but in the service of one’s brethren. (Rahner, Visions and Prophecies, 1963)

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Such mysticism is the more contemporary form. In the service to one’s fellow human beings we can experience unity with God. Notably, Christ, who exemplifies such mysticism, is the paradigmatic human being for Rahner. Rahner himself does not give one sort of mysticism primacy over the other. These important excerpts show that, for Rahner, mysticism is both an interior experience of transformation as well as an orientation to the outer life of human beings. Spirituality, in a unity of disposition to God and neighbor, possesses an ethical dimension as will become clearer in the following exposition of the idea of Indiferençia and its relation to “everyday” mysticism. It may be recalled in connection with the previous chapter that the domestic reception of the fundamental option argued for a concretizing of the concept through a focus on spiritual practice, cultural factors, and development of the Christic principle. Indiferençia in Rahner can be shown to be performing part of the agenda to concretize—it provides us with a spiritual basis for ethics and presents us with a viable model of perfect surrender in relation to God. Indiferençia also helps us recognize that Christianity is not “indoctrination,” but a proclamation of a history of God’s relationship with human beings and vice versa (Rahner here, once again, is countering secular atheistic propaganda). Such a covenantal basis for theology is basic to mysticism. Moreover, the idea of covenantal relationship with the divine allows us in the postcolonial moment to provide for a way to include transcendence. Hence, history is the event of transcendence from the perspective of a Rahnerian postcolonial theology. While history is, from the theological perspective, the history of God’s salvation, it is also the history of revelation and its interpretation, which human beings undertake in their freedom. Thus, salvation, revelation, and interpretation, all of which are infused with both the human being’s and God’s freedom, form a unity of history in Christianity. The claim of absolute value of Christianity and the particularity of the event of revelation and salvation may initially seem to be incompatible, Rahner says. However, such an impasse is solvable by the understanding of the human being as a transcendental being. He argues, in this regard, that the idea of transcendence can seem ahistorical if separated from its historical moorings, but also argues that any history that separates itself from the transcendental depths that make such history possible is doomed to be false. Now this is what I would call “an imperfect theory of transcendence” as Nandy wishes for the postcolonial context. It is imperfect to


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the extent that its purview is partial though universalizing in speaking solely in the Christian idiom for believing Christians. As argued in the previous section, however, postcolonial theology cannot forsake these imperfect theories of transcendence, as a spirituality for the political life cannot be sustained without a grounding in a religious or theological tradition. As was argued also, this is Nandy’s failing—the decolonization of the mind must be attended to by the decolonization of the spirit which means accepting a partial standpoint as a starting point for political thought and practice. For Indian Roman Catholic theologians, Rahner’s starting point of history as the event of transcendence, based on the content of revelation and interpretation seems to work as well to counter the secular excesses of modernity that Nandy decries. In the attempt to ground spirituality in history and on covenantal relationship, Rahner asserts that the encounter with the historical Jesus of Nazareth, the consequent meditation on the mystery that his life represents and the decision to follow, leads to an “existentiell Christology” (Rahner, 1978, 305–318). The encounter with Jesus of Nazareth must occur in the concrete—first in the encounter with one’s neighbor, second in the preparedness of death, and third, in the hope for the future. For postcolonial theology, these three limit questions are among those that have generated the most nihilistic views for modern people. A thoroughly theological agenda such as in Rahner addresses these questions with important ramifications for postcolonial theology. The theological ideas bear further exposition because, in my view, it is in the attempt to fashion an existentiell Christology that Rahner is the most coruscant in his presentation of incarnating grace. Incarnating grace brings together Rahner’s formulation of the supernatural existential and that of the Fundamental Option. Existentiell Christology requires the formulation of incarnating grace. The first idea that reveals the presence of antecedent grace and that can be appealed to in the construction of an existentiell Christology is the appeal to the absolute love of neighbor. Here Rahner asserts that in our love for our neighbor, it is Jesus Christ himself that we commit ourselves to love, thus standing in the Christic space of incarnating grace. In loving the human person as loving God, we are able to be most concrete in the situating of the experience of grace. Ethics in the postcolonial context, therefore, depends on cultivating the dimension of absolute love for other human beings. He writes:
But this means that it (absolute love) is searching for the God-man, that is, for someone who as a human being can be loved with the absoluteness

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for love for God. But it is not searching for him as an idea, because ideas cannot be loved; but rather as a reality . . . This reflection presupposes of course, that the human race forms a unity, and that true love is not individualistic and exclusive, but rather that with all of its necessary concreteness it is always ready to encompass everything. And conversely: love for everything must always become concrete in a concrete individual. (Rahner, 1978, 296)

Secondly, incarnated grace is evident when we attempt to connect the death of Jesus with the basic existential experiences of being finite.14 Death shows the human being to be utterly powerless in its finality but also shows the human ability to survive, live, and act with freedom, despite such powerful lack of ultimate ability to choose to die or not. When one struggles with the question of death, one is able to cultivate a cosmic perspective on the place of the finite in the world. He writes:
A theology of death can connect the event of the death of Jesus more closely with the basic constitution of human existence. Death is one act which pervades the whole of life, and which the human being, as a being of freedom, has disposal of themselves in their entirety. Indeed they have this in such a way that this disposal is, or should be, the acceptance of being disposed of absolutely in the radical powerlessness which appears and is endured in death. But if this free and ready acceptance of radical powerlessness by a free being who has and wants to have disposal of themselves is not to be the acceptance of the absurd, then in a person who deeply affirms in their history not abstract ideas and norms but present or future reality as the ground of their existence, this acceptance implies the intimation or the expectation or the affirmation of an already present or future and hoped-for death which is of such a nature that it reconciles the permanent dialectic in us between doing and enduring in powerlessness. But this is the case only if this real dialectic is “subsumed” by the fact that it is the very reality of something, which is the ultimate ground of this dialectic. (Rahner, 1978, 297)

The “permanent dialectic in us between doing and enduring in powerlessness” exists and flourishes as a human quality because of the significance of the death of Jesus and its promise for the future. Third, in the hope that the human being has for the future, the Christian demonstrates both true faith as well as true freedom. He writes:
The human being hopes, and they go to meet their future both making plans and at the same time opening themselves up to the incalculable. Their journey into the future is the constant effort to lessen the self-alienation which is within them and outside them, and to lessen


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the distance between what they are, and what they should be and what they want to be. (Rahner, 1978, 297)

The basis for such a hope is the mark left by God in human history— in the Incarnation. What facilitates the human being’s hope in such a future is, of course, grace through which we apprehend the intersection of God’s action and human history. These three ideas on incarnated grace ground existentiell Christology. Existentiell Christology is only understood by someone who takes the risk of encountering Jesus in the most personal way, given the above three “facts” of Christian life. Existentiell Christology is the perfect melding of “sitting and kneeling theology” in that reflection on the human being’s transcendental nature and its capacity for receiving Christ is a result of prayer. A person is “always Christian in order to become it,” (Rahner, 1978, 306) avers Rahner, and the encounter with Jesus results in an “ever unique discipleship.” Each call to such discipleship is a unique one, resulting in a “mysticism of love” (311) between Jesus and the human being. An existentiell Christology depends on a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and a complete surrender and free decision to follow Christ in example. In other words, this is how Indiferençia is incarnated in the world. Harvey Egan, in this regard, maintains that Rahner’s Jesus Christ is the “perfect, enfleshed, mystical word” (Egan, 1982, 98–108) whose death is the paradigm for “perfect detachment” from all created things. Such exemplary Indiferençia is precisely what is required of the contemporary Christian. Moreover, there can be those who are anonymous Christians in the manner that they incarnate Indiferençia who may never have categorically encountered the explicit witness of Jesus Christ. Here, incarnated Indiferençia is to be seen in ethical action and not prayer or meditation on Christ explicitly. For them, an existentiell Christology may be assumed from the manner in which they accept their existence without reservation and when they dispose their freedom to risk things that cannot be calculated or controlled (Rahner, 1978, 306). Similarly those who are baptized Christians—in spite of a Christian identity painfully riddled with failures, is to patiently and faithfully entrust their freedom to Jesus Christ. Existentiell Christology would seek recognition for incarnated grace, especially in the acts of love to the human other, which may have a rather anonymously Christian bent to it:
[It] implies positively that a person whom Christ has not yet encountered in an explicit, historical witness, which comes to them from history, can find him nevertheless in their brothers and sisters and in their love for them. Jesus Christ allows himself to be found in them anonymously

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as it were, for he himself said, “What you did for the least of my people, you have done for me” (Matt. 25:40), for him who lives his life in the poor, in the hungry, in those in prison and in those who are dying. (311)

The idea of incarnated Indiferençia and its social dimension, as Rahner outlines it, shows that Indiferençia is not an abstract ideal reserved for spiritual gymnasts. Rather, it is a profoundly relational understanding of what it takes for us to become human, in our relationship to God and others, through the operations of Jesus Christ’s grace. As a spiritual practice, it is a foundation that is both task and gift that must be accepted in order to respond unreservedly to God’s call and love. In my view, moreover, as a disposition, Indiferençia is also a cultivation of an “incarnational spirituality,” where in every instance of encounter with others grace functions to preserve the due place and unique otherness of those we encounter. Finally, the true “essence” of Indiferençia is its “elevation into the decision to do more.” This Thomistic gloss means that such an undertaking is possible in the most ordinary of human lives. By this Rahner means to say that Indiferençia does not exist for its own sake, but becomes an active force that is really God’s. In other words, here and elsewhere, Rahner is of the opinion that all our human actions are to be performed as a “handing over” of one’s self to God. Thus, he is able to say, “despite our great freedom, we do not have control over ourselves, but can only endure and say: “Into your hands, I commend my spirit.” Rahner also cautions here that an active Indiferençia is the exact opposite of all attitudes of unconcern. Active Indiferençia is participation in the transformation of self, a form of emptying, so that space is consciously created in the practitioner for God. It requires full and conscious participation and the exercise of freedom. In fact, he asserts, we become Christian, precisely through matters of choice. Human beings need to choose within a horizon of final indifference that gives to all their concrete and ordinary life a spiritual dimension. In my view, Rahner here is providing for a thoroughly pastoral orientation to mysticism in order to remove from it any taint of elitism. His understanding of ordinary everyday mysticism is really therefore the concretion of the transcendental-metaphysical, existential-historical, and mystical unity of human experience and action that he has been arguing for throughout. In what may be considered as close a definition of Indiferençia as possible, Rahner says:
Indiferençia is the calm readiness for every command of God, the equanimity which, out of the realization that God is always greater that


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anything we can experience of God or wherein we can find God, continually detaches itself from every determinate things which human beings are tempted to regard as the point in which alone God meets them. Hence, the characteristic of Ignatian piety is not so much situated in a material element, in the promotion of a particular thought or particular practice, is not one of the special ways to God, but it is something formal, an ultimate attitude towards all thoughts, practices, and ways: an ultimate reserve and coolness towards all particular ways, because all possession of God must leave God as greater beyond all possession of God. (Rahner, TI: 3, “Ignatian Mysticism of Joy in the World,” 291)

In this excerpt we notice Rahner’s insistence that Indiferençia is a letting go of all certitude, even that of the sure knowledge of finding God as such in one’s quest for God. The disposition of Indiferençia propels us to “decamp” continually from even those places where one is assured of finding God, into the radical ambiguity of human history. Then, one may find God, in the restless seeking of God in all things. These critical elements of Indiferençia that lead us to what we can call in postcolonial parlance, the decolonizing of the spirit, are that it is processual, that it must be vigilantly and prayerfully practiced in order to develop it constantly, and that it leads us straight into the everyday messiness of life. Similar to Gandhi’s practice of self-purification, such a spirituality allows us to hone a language of the spirit in the manner that Nandy argued. It leads to complete transformation of the self, culminating in the experience of death. However, it is also the way in which we discover the uniqueness of our self. In a committed process of discernment, we not only discover the uniqueness of our being and the will of God for us, but we find the ground from which to make decisions. The practice of Indiferençia leads us to develop a vigorous theory of “not-self” to counter the corrosive effects of political power acting on subjugated selves. Similar to Gandhi’s model, Indiferençia allows us to see ourselves in a larger, cosmic view, allowing for a theological imagination to transcend the boundary of subjugation. Indiferençia can be “anonymous” in the manner that people seek to find the will of God in relating to the concrete other in the world. It is the cultivation of an incarnational spirituality, which allows one to let go of individual power for God. Here, Indiferençia allows us to cultivate an eye for continuity. The manner in which we retrieve our traditions must manifest a commitment to the past in such a manner as to counter the lures of talk of “progress,” “development,” and “science.” The importance of reading Rahner in this regard is not that he offers “something new” to Indian postcolonial

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Roman Catholic theologians. The importance of reading Rahner in this view is that he provides for us a way to retrieve the tradition so that aspects of it, which are deemphasized by colonial power, can be shown to possess grammars for languages of dissent.

Embracing Many Worlds: The Practice of Spirituality
Disappointingly of course, the fear of organized religion so thoroughly permeates most theorists of culture that they, including Nandy, egregiously avoid specifically religious or theological constructive positions. Here is where I propose such a constructive spin on Nandy from the perspective of religious subjectivity and theology. Of course, this constructive spin need not be a simple flat-footed “addition” of religion or spirituality to his work. The constructive spin instead will treat Nandy’s reading of Gandhi as a particular instance of retrieval of spirituality in politics—notably, Nandy’s emphasis of Gandhi’s nonviolence for civic and international polity. This section, as with the other readings of postcolonial theorists, once again follows the methodology of disarticulation. In the previous section on Nandy, what was highlighted was his emphasis of the language of the spirit and personal transformation for the development of critical democratic participation. In this section, the argument is building on what Nandy wishes to foreground from the perspective of spiritual practices that lead to the disposition of cognitive and spiritual indifference. Thus, I interrogate Nandy for the absence of the development of a continuing program of spiritual indifference with the specific goal of engaging theological positions such as Rahner. What we note in Nandy’s retrieval of Gandhi is the latter’s avowal of the organic unity of life under a benevolent God (the ecological view) that ought to contribute as the major source for such a political spirituality. Nandy will not engage in theological thinking, but neither is he willing to dismiss the “language of the spirit” as we have seen. He does not endorse a fully fledged spirituality, though he would be willing to say that Gandhi’s mysticism of identity and ethical action were indeed grounded in a religious, spiritual, and theological framework. For some detractors (Nanda, 2003)15 the move to incorporate the language of the spirit in critical theory is appallingly retroverted; for others, it does not go far enough (Paranjape, 2000). Part of the reaction against Nandy’s proposals is due to the prevalence of secularized scientism among contemporary Indian intellectuals as well as due to the politicized emphasis on Gandhi, the “father of the nation” in nationalistic


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rhetoric. Nandy is critical of both emphases especially the dualistic framework that views religion and science as oppositional realities and identities as legitimate or illegitimate in nationalist rhetoric. Nandy however, appears timid in his suggestions for incorporating spirituality in his political proposals precisely because he is unable to wholly break away from the critical model he so thoroughly espouses. For example, Makarand Paranjape argues that Nandy presents a “clandestine and incommunicable” self in his coy elusion of religious subjectivity. For Paranjape, Nandy is far too critical and not enough traditional even though Nandy calls himself a “critical traditionalist.” Though Nandy is a Christian, it is not self-evident in most of his writings and seems to Paranjape to be more of a Hindu who has lapsed back into the “faith” of his ancestors. In my reading, Paranjape is on to something here. The criticism seems to be that Nandy’s religious and spiritual language of the spirit does not seem to be moored in any concrete practice of faith that would give credence to the emphasis on spirituality. Thus Nandy’s work is strictly to be placed within the very modernity he despises! It is true, however, that Nandy’s language of the spirit in politics is related to a specifically Indian understanding of the relationship between religious identity and political life. Religious identity has organized public and political life in India for centuries. It has coexisted with multiplicity and plurality utilizing theories of transcendence that allow it to have porous boundaries and strategic value to resist homogenization. Communal amity consequently was the result of cultivating a particular stance toward difference. Religious differences are not absolute; they are relative to one’s standpoint. Hence, the Indian religious and theological scene has always exhibited tendencies toward hybridization. It seems to me that there is an incipient tendency to foreground such a syncretic mode with regard to identity and ethics in Nandy’s thought, which is not sufficiently theorized from within a theological and religious standpoint, leading to what Paranjape deems not “traditional enough or spiritual enough” (Paranjape, 2000, 239, 240). The criticism is spot on for a theology of religions in the multireligious and multicultural context of India. If all is syncretism in view of a homogenizing goal such as nationalism, then we lose the sense of being a complex society. If all is exclusivity and rigid rules of inclusion and exclusion, there is no communal amity. Negotiating the difference between religious identities in India for example raises the question of how multiple identities exist within the modern construction of the nation-state. Paranjape argues here that Nandy inadequately examines the enduring relationship between

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communalism and modernity that remains volatile and incendiary (Paranjape, 2000, 243). Here religious identities that make incommensurable truth claims end up in opposition while nationalistic rhetoric coerces them to unifying homogeneity. Nandy is right to criticize the unifying and homogenizing trends of nationalistic rhetoric in modernity. Nandy has indeed consistently argued for the dismantling of bounded identities and has sought to present the strategies of survival in India as strategies of tolerance toward the other. However, Paranjape in my mind is calling for an even more pointed analysis than Nandy is willing to do. The issue for Paranjape is the struggle between incommensurables—the logic of the Hindu Nationalist and the logic of the Muslim Indian appealing for an inclusive notion of the nationstate that can simultaneously accommodate privileged identity claims. This needs to be evaluated as a practice—not simply as a theory of porous boundaries. In other words, a spirituality informing the perception of difference needs to stand in corrective relation to the more secular idea of the nation-state. Such a move would doubtless require the development of a program of active participation in religious and theological media—a move that Nandy does not make. Paranjape perceives in Nandy the disingenuous aversion of the theorist for the activist—what Nandy preaches, Nandy himself does not want to do. In my view, what Makarand Paranjape’s apposite observation is asking for is an even more capacious development of Nandy’s proposals from theory as separate from practice to more practice-in-theory and theory-as-practice and a renewed focus on Gandhi’s identity manipulation for liberation. Gandhi’s reliance on “tradition” which enabled him to manipulate identity categories was distinctly religious and spiritual. It can be argued that he presented a mystical program in the politics of resistance thus infuriating his opponents: Archbishop Cosmo Lang in a letter to lord Irwin described Gandhi as “a mystic, fanatic and an anarchist” (Chatterjee, 1983, 90). Such mysticism was not Molinist quietism. Rather, it was a political mysticism that enjoined the practitioner to hold in creative tension the modern category of identity construction, whether political, religious, or gendered, through the search for God in everyone and everything at all times. Such activist mysticism or spirituality is absent in Nandy’s work. Nandy is content merely to draw on Gandhi’s statements and treat them in separation to his practice. In multicultural and multireligious communities such as modern India, a more complex argument that allows for drawing on the specifically religious for critical political activism is perhaps the domain of a specifically postcolonial theology


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rather than cultural theory such as in Nandy. Nandy would not be entirely averse to such a constructive spin on his political theory though he has very little patience with elite practices in religion.16 However, as Paranjape argues, if Nandy is to “touch what is really sanatana or eternal in tradition” (Paranjape, 2000, 248), then, Nandy’s “critical traditionalism” must point the way to a practical wisdom for nonviolent polity as it arises out of traditional, religious, and spiritual practices. Without a doubt, it is Nandy’s presentation of Ahimsa in Gandhi that concretizes such a goal. There is first of all the search within for the intimate enemy of the distorted self that supports colonial logic. Ahimsa in this regard was the greatest task that Gandhi set for himself: the task of self-purification, which, in his view, would lead to the liberation of both India and Great Britain. On the one hand he fought the British through their own national consciousness against colonization and occupation while fighting equally hard in India to establish his version of nonviolence as the central core of Hinduism (Nandy, 1983, 51). In the political wielding of this idea, Nandy points out, Gandhi was not simply pitting “humane Hindu” against “inhuman Britons”; he was creatively using a central principle of dominant Christian, Hindu, Buddhist, and Jain beliefs to counter stresses (with regard to colonial occupation) both in India and in Great Britain. Ahimsa was used in the political sphere to redefine autonomy as a mode of spiritual and social purification allowing the modern self to hold in tensive balance the claims of identity formation in modernity. Thus, the idea of autonomy on which Gandhi based his actions was one that was pervasive in the culture and society of India—a model of autonomy that belied the indignity, exploitation, and violence defining its victimhood. Such a model of autonomy actively militated against the role of victim assigned to the colonial subject. This was accomplished through the syncretizing modes that refused to absolutize relative differences. By taking the form of ethical and cultural hybridity, truer understanding of the oppressors counters paralyzing victimology (Nandy, 1983, 99). Thus Nandy writes:
This century has shown that in every situation of organized oppression the true antonyms are always the exclusive part vs. the inclusive whole—not masculinity vs. femininity but either of them vs. androgyny, not the past vs. the present but either of them vs. the timelessness in which the past is the present and the present is the past, not the oppressor vs. the oppressed but both of them vs. the rationality which turns them into co-victims.

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In Nandy’s view, Gandhi was the arch exemplar of such autonomy in identity formation—he was able to transform the debate on Indian self-hypocrisy into a simultaneous text of British self-doubt. In other words, where the Indian hybrid (wog) had heretofore been the object of derision by the British, Gandhi managed to undermine British attitudes of superiority by pointing to the ethical significance of the hybrid, who mimed what was perceived as “best” in the British culture. It was this defense mechanism toward the conquerors that consequently would not allow Indians to be “defeated” in the full sense. Gandhi, by refusing to approximate the Western idea of a true antagonist, blurred the traditional line of oppressor and oppressed and thus beat the imperialists at their own game. Nevertheless, his most serious critiques were directed at Indians in India. Indian communal violence was managed and maintained by the British through the principle of “Divide and Rule.” Gandhi’s ire consequently is clear here:
The English have not taken India; we have given it to them. They are not in India because of their strength, but because we keep them . . . They came to our country originally, for purposes of trade. Recall the company Bahadur? Who made it Bahadur? They had not the slightest intention at the time of establishing a Kingdom. Who assisted the company officers? Who was tempted at the sight of their silver? History testifies that we did all this . . . it is truer to say that we gave India to the English than that India was lost . . . the causes that gave them India enable them to retain it. Some Englishmen state that they took and hold India by the sword. Both these statements are wrong. The sword is entirely useless for holding India. We alone keep them . . . Many problems can be solved by remembering that money is their God. Then it follows that we keep the English in India for our base self-interest. We like their commerce; they please us by their subtle methods and get what they want from us. To blame them for this is to perpetuate their power. We further strengthen their hold by quarrelling amongst ourselves. (Quoted in Parel, 1997, 39)

In this passage for example, Gandhi neatly turns the tables on nationalist agendas while simultaneously pointing out the evils of British governance which followed the policy of “Divide and Rule” in India. He led the Indians to a deeper search for authentic self-liberation, which then placed all responsibility for their liberation not on their victimhood but on the realization that they were complicit in their victimization as well as on the realization that their carefully constructed political identities were simply being utilized for a powerful game of economic interest. Nandy reads this move correctly, but fails


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to identify the foundation of such an assertion in Gandhi’s spirituality that sought to emphasize an ecumenical solution to the incommensurability of religious claims in the political sphere. Nandy is well aware that there is such a foundation in Gandhi’s thought. Ethnic and religious tolerance in Gandhi came from his antisecularism, which was manifested as the refusal to separate religion from politics. Religious tolerance hence is not only the tolerance of religion, but also a tolerance that is religious (Nandy, 2002, 87). Gandhi, says Nandy, claimed that he was a sanatani Hindu (orthodox Hindu) and that this was the reason that he simultaneously claimed to be a Muslim, Sikh, and a Christian while granting the same plural identity to people of other faiths. Hence, what is “eternal” in Hinduism is precisely its ability to conceive of plurality of self-identity and what goes against it is secularized nationalistic rhetoric that articulates identity in a very different manner. Consequently, in India, where modernization and secularization have progressed, communal violence has also increased. Religious identity plays a diminishing role in such violence and wealth; power and vested interests manage and manipulate religious identity to a much greater degree. The intimate enemy to be discerned here is the disavowal of those processes whereby religious identity was constructed for plural societies such as India. Key here is Nandy’s presentation of Hinduism’s interaction with the divine in everyday moments. This essay comes closest to a religious and theological exposition of the relationship with the divine in India in Nandy’s work. In the essay “Present State of the Gods and Goddesses in South Asia” (Nandy, 2002, 129–156), Nandy aggressively critiques the manner in which nationalist Hinduism hijacks the central metaphor of Hindu religiosity and spirituality, that is, the relationship between human beings and the divine, for a narrow Hindutva17 agenda. Nandy slyly posits that the move to disavow the involvement of the Hindu pantheon on the lives of people on the subcontinent and elsewhere18 has to do with a sense of inferiority in the self of the polytheistic but secularized Hindus who are ashamed at the sheer numbers in the Hindu pantheon unlike the more tidy arrangements of monotheistic religions such as Islam and Christianity. Therefore, in the encounter with modern forms of religious and political identity, religious and political identity simultaneously exhibit the anxious movement toward homogeneity and uniformity. The messy Hindu pantheon with the foibles and notorious antics of its members only become a matter of embarrassment in societies yearning toward the unitary, the secular, and the scientific.

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Moreover, Hindutva as a reaction to everyday vernacular Hinduism has very little to commend it religiously. In fact, asserts Nandy, nationalists espousing Hindutva are not religious or spiritual at all—their participation in the rituals and worship at even the Ramjanmabhumi temple is sketchy and sporadic. Relating a story about Gandhi’s visit to a branch of the RSS, Nandy asserts that Gandhi’s consternation at not finding an image of Ram alongside of the heroes and deities of aggressive masculine heroes such as Shivaji and Rana Pratap was met with the explanation that Ram was “too effeminate” for “our purposes.”19 Thus, the nationalists hijack deities to the extent that they serve their (masculinist) causes. Nandy instead wants to make room for a different sort of relationship with the divine:
I am not going to speak about a style of relating to gods and goddesses which invites one to fight for their causes while caring nothing for them. I am going to speak about gods and goddesses who inhabit the world we live in, sometimes as house guests, sometimes as our neighbors headache, sometimes even as private ghosts without whom we think we can live in greater peace. The literary theorist D. R. Nagaraj accused me of writing on these things as an outsider, ‘You come to the gods and goddesses as an intellectual, academically,’ he said. I often feel like telling him that though I did not want to come to them, they forced me. There is an inevitable logic through which these obstreperous deities infect our lives, pervade it, even invade and take it over, independently of our likes and dislikes. Like most South Asians, belonging to a whole range of faiths, I have no choice in the matter. (Nandy, 2002, 134, emphasis added)

For the average South Asian, the fact of the many gods and goddesses in India is one that cannot be avoided—the intimate connection between the sacred and the mundane ensures that one cannot escape the presence of the deities who will aggressively pursue even the nonbeliever. Such an idea that is rooted in a particular variety of South Asian metaphysical realism has much to commend to a spirituality of politics. Moreover, Indian Hindu spirituality, with its syncretizing tendencies cultivated a particular outlook to deal with the reality of unequal power (Nandy, 1983, 107–112). Despite the excesses of colonial aggression and violence, the Indian self struggled to sustain a spirit that remained uncolonized. Nandy calls this a “metaphysical defense” (Nandy, 1983, 107) as a strategy of survival. A particular principle called Apaddharma—the way of life under perilous conditions and founded on the idea of the oneness of all beings—requires that one


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can be overly accommodating to the demands of a conqueror so that the collective survives. One cultivates an attitude of indifference in the face of oppression by “being in the world, but not of it” (Nandy, 1983, 109), using an ancient distinction between “existential consciousness and the attribute consciousness.”20 This controlled cultivation of one’s mental state leads to a “peculiar robust realism,” which enables one to master fate and transcend necessity. What is painstakingly cultivated in the person is a “talent for and faith in life”—fundamentally a mechanism for survival. Thus:
It is that the average Indian has always lived with the awareness and possibility of long-term suffering, always seen themselves as protecting their deepest faith . . . by refusing to overplay their sense of autonomy and self-respect. At their heroic best, they are satyagrahis, who forge a partly coercive weapon called Satyagraha out of . . . “perfect weakness.” In their non-heroic ordinariness, they are the archetypal survivor. Seemingly they make all-round compromises, but they refuse to be psychologically swamped, co-opted or penetrated . . . . in order to truly live, the inviolable core of Indianness seems to affirm, it might be sometimes better to be dead in somebody else’s eyes, so as to be alive for one’s own self. In order to accept oneself, one must learn to hold in trust “weaknesses” to which a violent, culturally barren and politically bankrupt world would someday have to return. (Nandy, 1983, 111–112)

Nandy is underscoring his primary thesis here in this paragraph— under systemic oppression and violence, analytic categories that heretofore had seemed polarizing and irreconcilable seem to disappear or, at the very least, have been stood on their head. The analytic categories that he has examined are “the universal vs. parochial, the material vs. the spiritual, the achieving vs. the non-achieving and the sane vs. the insane” (Nandy, 1983, 112). In the cultivation of perfect weakness, the Indian who is focused on survival pours energy into overturning the system of competing binary arrangements which are being manipulated and managed by colonial authority. This is accomplished through the construction of the self and its identity as porous and permeable. The very category of a self-conscious “Indian” identity has disappeared in favor of a more open and fluid selfdefinition. When the central problem is coping with oppression, there is the “vague awareness in the victim,” insists Nandy, of a “larger whole” on which s/he can draw on. In view of the “whole” however comprehended, the colonial actor chooses to strategically deploy one or the other aspect of their consciousness in order to underscore the relationship to the other. The plea to the humanity of the oppressor under

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conditions of oppression requires that the strategic choice that one makes in one’s self-definition is reminiscent of the “humanity” around which one constructs the oppressor. Ultimately, such a reconstruction of the self is a form of spirituality because the connection to the whole can only come from the consciousness of the unity of all things. For Nandy, further, the spirituality of those who are weak may have the tensile strength to survive better than those who are ultramaterialistic and visionless, and the seemingly nonachieving actually may be achieving a degree of freedom and autonomy without losing their sanity. It was this sort of a paradoxical rationality that refused to be co-opted by institutionalized oppression that was the basis of Gandhi’s notions of Ahimsa and Satyagraha, notions that are the basis for Nandy’s claims of a language of the spirit in politics and civic life. Gandhi was expressly not advocating “indifference” before an oppressive system of power. The goal of nonviolent struggle was not the victory of one side over another, but the radical transformation of relationships and the conquest not by power, but by truth. This truth, the central insight that guided Gandhi’s political action was the interrelationship of creation under God. The idea of Ahimsa was based on the idea of “truth-force”—Satyagraha, which means, “clinging to truth.” As has been asserted before, Gandhi believed that beneath the apparent conflicts and divisions of life there was an underlying principle of truth, which was the basis for nonviolence even in relationships marked by unequal power. Nonviolence in the face of relationships marked by unequal power overturns our expectations of power, success, and might. In fact, Gandhi would assert, it was history’s failures that showed us how nonviolence in action, especially in the face of unequal power would become imbued with truth or God. In this regard, his writings document his profound appreciation of Jesus:
The theory is that an adequate appeal to the heart never fails. Seeming failure is not the law of Satyagraha but of incompetence of the satyagrahi by whatever cause induced. It may not be possible to give a complete historical instance. The name of Jesus at once comes to the lips. It is an instance of brilliant failure. And he has been acclaimed in the West as the prince of passive resisters. I showed years ago in South Africa that the adjective “passive” was a misnomer, at least as applied to Jesus. He was the most active resister known perhaps to history. He was nonviolence par excellence. (Gandhi, 1946, emphasis added)

Nonviolent resistance seeks to persuade aggressors to recognize in the victims of their inhumanity, the humanity they have in common. It


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attempts simultaneously to admit of the humanity of the oppressor however dimly perceived to avoid a repetition of the arrangement of oppressor and victim. When that is fully recognized, violence is impossible. Gandhi’s use of nonviolence was not without the realization that it did not follow the model of “successful” negotiations with power that the West was (and continues to be) used to. In turning the logic of dominance and submission on its head, Gandhi is providing for a discourse on “failure” that has thoroughly religious roots.

Practical Mysticism
Can Nandy be helped in the creation of a practice of spirituality for politics through the “everyday mysticism” of Karl Rahner? If Paranjape’s insightful reading of Nandy is valid, then the constructive agenda for Nandy is to encounter a form of spiritual practice that can accommodate his critical and theological perspectives. A dialogical encounter with Rahner may help in this regard. However, when we investigate Rahner, we find him erring differently than Nandy. There is little to quibble with Rahner with regard to the cohesiveness of his vision of freedom and theology and the pastoral import of his views on mysticism. But the question must be asked—what use is Indiferençia in a context marked by violence? The question is not whether Indiferençia is “relevant” or not; the question has to do with the form that Indiferençia will take in contexts marked by violence. In the presence of violence not even Rahner would assert that human beings remain in supine passivity, commending themselves to the divine. What is not clear, therefore, is how Rahner conceives of the manifestation of Indiferençia in human/human relations and how we ought to make decisions in cultures of survival where violence can deeply affect the principle of “love” of neighbor. In other words, given the fact of violent human encounters, can true love of neighbor show itself to be synonymous with love of God? Can the ethical lead to the mystical in cultures of survival? Interpreters who evaluate the idea of Indiferençia in Rahner point to the “practical impulse” that vivifies the notion and which, in their view, prevents it from being merely a spiritual or theological idea. Such is the view in Klaus Fischer’s analysis (Fischer, 1974, 29) of Rahner’s Indiferençia. Here, many of the themes that we have encountered with Rahner’s theology of freedom are revisited through the analysis of Indiferençia. Significantly, Fischer perceives Indiferençia as a cohesive element in Rahner’s mystical theology that leads to the possibility of “incarnated love.”

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Primarily, Fischer refers to the idea of Indiferençia as a practice that allows one to see God in all things: an “incarnational mysticism.” According to him, the basic impulse toward God in this formulation is self-evidently one of indifference or passivity, though even this is an act of God (Fischer, 1974, 27). The experience is one of being touched and moved by God and is basically a spiritual idea. The human being experiences Indiferençia as something that God does within them. Human beings are not active in relation to God, but have to wait for God. In this Indifference we are “hearers of the word” (Fischer, 1974, 29–35). Rahner generalizes the spiritual idea of “Indifference” for theological reasons. In other words, Rahner weaves the idea of “Indifference” into theology in the understanding that the destiny of human beings is to dispose of themselves before God, in the manner of contemplatives. Rahner therefore is providing for a practical bent in the spiritual idea of Indiferençia, because theology has a public face. The mystical motif could suggest to some that Rahner is basically presenting a program for individual transformation without any concern for the world. Fischer points out that a more complex definition of mysticism attends Rahner’s use of the idea, through the emphasis on “love” (Fischer, 1974, 47). Love, that is an ethical foundation, delineates the practical basis of even the earliest of Rahner’s theology, sharpened in the later years through the conversations with Metz. Metz of course, called for a change of focus and not for a replacing of Rahner’s transcendental starting point. Rahner’s theology thus was always ripe for development as political theology. As Fischer argues, Metz brings Rahner’s fundamentally incarnational theology into a broader, more public perspective (389). If the human being is the place of revelation then Rahner’s theological philosophy is about a theological attempt to understand the human being as the place where God shows Godself. Consequently, the practical impulse in Rahner’s theology is evident in the very manner that he does theology. In speaking of our original experiences of God to others and in acknowledging how our actions in the world are motivated in and through these experiences, Rahner’s theology clearly has a public dimension. Hence, even some of the earliest interpreters of Rahner read Rahner to intensify the public dimension of his theology. Postcolonial theology reading Rahner therefore is simply standing in a long tradition of continuing engagement and development of Rahner’s thought. In connecting mysticism to theology, Fischer argues that Rahner is able to make concrete a spiritual idea such as Indiferençia. Fischer (and even Metz,21 to an extent) comment that Rahner’s attention to the


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social embeddedness of the human being results in making doctrinal theology relevant to ordinary human life. It is also important to keep in mind that much of Rahner’s mystagogy has an autobiographical element to it. Postcolonial theology can note a convergence of concerns with Nandy: the language of the spirit in Rahner is wedded to the language of the self. Mysticism therefore has to do with an attitude of the self in the world and its relation to God. Thus, individual mysticism is an experience of God that becomes meaningful precisely because the resulting speech about God occurs in a public domain. Further, Indiferençia and its consequences, for Rahner, are to be observed in human history. The pinnacle of such concretization of Indiferençia is the incarnation. Consequently, Indiferençia in human beings is the power to incarnate the mystical nearness of God. Curiously again, one of Nandy’s other concerns—having a cosmic historical view in evaluating the political stance of the self is rooted here in a spiritual disposition. Rahner seems to be eminently usable for a postcolonial theology of political mysticism. If all of the above is true, then it must also be true for Rahner that the exercise of ethical love as incarnated love leads to ethical acts that always and everywhere, even in the presence of violence, manifest grace in the perfect loving response to the other. In other words, even in the concrete political categorical reality of the postcolonial violent encounter, ethical acts will engender grace. Ethical acts of incarnated love will dissolve the imperial agenda of power and neutralize the destructive consequences of the colonial aftermath. Violence can be met with love—the message at the heart of the gospel. The colonized, if this is the case, can become actors and agents, rather than the passive “oppressed” because they can disrupt the binary logic of violence. If such a proposition is true, then there is an absolute “fit” between Rahner and postcolonial theorists. However, when one probes Rahner in this regard, “incarnational love” gives way to the condoning of violent resistance. In other words, the message of the Gospel is subtly repudiated, and results (in the context of unequal relations), in a justification of counterviolence. Rahner utilizes neither mysticism nor incarnational ethics in the counteraction to imperial violence. Hence, Rahner falls short of an uncritical retrieval by postcolonial theologians with regard to Indiferençia and its connection to ethical action. A constructive proposal that would supplement Rahner’s agenda of mystical-ethical action to preserve freedom for the individual in society needs to expand the idea of “love” into the socio-political arena of colonial relations. Before providing this constructive move however, it is

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instructive to look at Rahner’s theology of power and the relationship of Indiferençia as disposition in the presence of the exercise of violent power. Indiferençia does not seem to play a large role in the exercise of “power.” The religious elements of subjectivity that he so assiduously protects in every other way curiously vaporize in the discussion of violence. Rahner does not address violence as such and prefers to speak (rather unsophisticatedly) of the exercise of power in the lives of human beings. He therefore provides for a theology of power. However, the connection between mysticism and engagement with power is not adequately worked out. As was indicated above, Rahner seems to demonstrate some sympathy for such a concrete development of spirituality in the realm of politics. But, he does not possess a sophisticated enough understanding of power to utilize Indiferençia to the transformation of unequal historical structures. Transforming such structures as the result of Indiferençia in its practical aspects is the task that presents itself in the postcolonial context where analyses of power differentials are momentous. In the essay titled “Theology of Power” (TI: 4, 391–409), Rahner distinguishes between human and divine power. In doing so, he presents three theological theses. First, human power (over others) ought never to have existed because it really stems from sin; second, power, though stemming from sin is a gift of God; and third, the exercise of power can lead to salvation or perdition. He also points out that there is a definite relation of power to human freedom. Power can act on human beings in such a manner as to adversely affect their free decisions. However, cautions Rahner, there is no possibility of a world of pure “integrity,” in which power would have no sway. Christian realism cautions against such utopianism and prefers instead to see power as a characteristic of our human condition. Rahner’s analysis here is limited to an inner theological discussion of what power means in the world. Postcolonial theologians will have to evaluate this constraint on the analysis of power and align it with more secular theses on power presented by postcolonial theorists. The inability however of Christian analyses of power to take seriously the more secular concerns of power gives us pause. Perhaps the “separation” of sacred from the secular is as much a feature of vested interest as it is of those tired of the hypocritical stance of religious institutions in addressing the issue of unequal power. For Rahner, the Christian understanding of power is important— power as force is something that ought to be overcome. It can be overcome through the work of spirit, love and grace (TI: 4, 394). The


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role of human freedom in this overcoming of power (as force) is that of making a decision, which is free and “God-ward.” Power exists and comes as a charge from God. In other words, according to Rahner, power is an existential. Power exists in the space of freedom, and it is a space that is occupied by many. Thus Rahner says:
. . . the very exercise of freedom—being that of a creature, depending on pre-requisites, as the freedom of a material, inter-personal and communicative being—is at once a restriction of the source of another’s freedom, essentially and inevitably. No one can act freely without impinging on the sphere of another’s freedom without their previous consent—without doing violence to them and using physical force, in a metaphysical but very real sense. (396)

Rahner here is indicating that there is a murky side to freedom. Any act, even when performed in freedom, “essentially and inevitably” restricts another’s space and freedom. In other words, there is a “transcendental necessity of force,” a condition of the very possibility of freedom and, in this sense, willed by God. The murkiness of the concept of freedom is heightened by the idea that it really takes a believer to understand the true nature of power. This is to say that Rahner considers power to be created and willed by God and therefore of itself not inherently sinful. As an existential it demonstrates the ability to be transformed. Here Rahner’s discussion on power is a little bit more nuanced than earlier. The fact that power works in the context of the freedom of others allows for an expansion of the theological view of power into the realm of history. Note however, that Rahner presumes that he is speaking to one who holds power over others. The agenda for those over whom power acts unequally is underdeveloped in his theology of power. As a reality of experience, power exists in a dialectical relationship with freedom. In this relationship, freedom as a characteristic of the spirit is the “higher” (TI: 4, 399) Rahner asserts that the principle of absolute renunciation of force is not a Christian principle because that which is of the spirit and that which is in the material world are not meant to be mutually exclusive characteristics of human beings. A Christian perspective on power invites us to see that each action, born in freedom and acknowledging the existence of power and its influence on other people, has an impact on eternity. Thus Rahner argues:
All freedom has an eternal validity and an eternal destiny. It is (therefore) clear that power acts in combination with this eternal freedom and contributes to the eternal result of the freedom of another. We are

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forever not just as such as we willed to be, but also such as we became through (each other), the other. May one do such a thing? What an enormous task is imposed on the human being, simply by the fact that they have the power to act on the freedom of the human being! (404–405, emphasis added)

At this point in the analysis of power, Rahner’s focus on the subjective self gives way to a deeper consideration of the “other.” Rahner denies the viability of abstract idealism’s declaration that even in chains the human being is really free. Rather, under the conditions of propaganda, asserts Rahner, it is quite impossible to do the definitive free act which one could do “if the field of freedom were wider and different.” The holder of power, according to Rahner, has a tremendous responsibility. This responsibility is the flip side of their freedom. The holder of power ought to always see it as something provisional, a charge imposed on them and as evidence of the “bitterness and humiliation of the reverence and love for the mystery of the individuum ineffabile in the person of the other” (405). But, because of the sinful human condition, Rahner concedes that power is never used to serve in this way; rather, it is used to rule over others, even drawing divine legitimation for the holders. Nonetheless, Rahner also says something about those who do not have power—even in the condition of having no power, those subjected by power have a charge. They are, in fact, “empowered and charged to prove that human beings believe in the superior power of truth and love, even where they seem to perish, conquered perhaps by might” (406). However, Rahner does not show how exactly this happens in the context of subjugation or denigration. His focus here is on the one who has power, calling relentlessly for understanding power in the context of servanthood and stewardship. As is evident, the idea of power that Rahner is presenting here is one-dimensional. It refers almost exclusively to “power over” and not the “power to.” Conversely, it is in the context of existential alienation that Rahner presents a different idea of power. When the above essay is compared with the essays titled “Christmas in the Light of Ignatian Exercises” or with the text in The Spirit in the Church (Rahner, 1985, “Experiencing the Spirit in Actual Life,” 18–22), there seems to be a definite impulse in Rahner to present ideas somewhat different than “power over.” That is, in those essays, he can be interpreted as presenting stereotypical “weakness,” “loss of control,” and “death” as ideas that, when invigorated by God’s grace, become forces of change and hope in the world. The condition of powerlessness, in other words, becomes a


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conduit for God’s grace and God’s power. The theological metaphysics operating here reveals not the “autonomy of human reason” but a free human reason necessarily dependent on God and God’s grace. In The Spirit in the Church, Rahner says that liberating grace and God are to be found precisely in those situations where human beings find themselves in radical loss and loneliness. Thus, Rahner locates grace within the existential conditions of real life and conceives of it as a dynamic engagement with the conditions of struggle. Nevertheless, when attempting to conceptualize the workings of power in the context of violence, Rahner turns both fatalistic and paternalistic. The presence of violence is an opportunity for human freedom to counter it—violently. A “fundamental and universal renunciation” (TI: 4, 399) of any and all physical force to counter the effect of physical force is “impractical” because “force will always be with us.” It is also immoral in that it would mean first of all a renouncing of the exercise of human freedom, “because it takes place in the material realm” and therefore would mean the self-destruction of the subject who is responsible only to God. Emphasis has been added to show that, for Rahner, the realm of force is definitely in the categorical realm. While he takes seriously the historical context and specificity of violence, he ignores the partiality of that very context. Force or violence is, in his view, the only choice and the only legitimate response in the context of unequal power. Consider for example this egregious justification of force by power that also possesses “might”:
Christian morality convinced of the incorrigible fallibility of human beings recognizes that conflict cannot always and on principle be avoided. There will be cases where might decides the issue with (at least formal) moral right, because force is used by holders of power, in good faith at least, for a morally justifiable end—even though the moral justification of the end is contested by others. There are therefore real cases, where the concrete right lies subjectively and in practice on the side of the stronger might—where to put it the other way around, subjectively and in practice the stronger might is also right. (400)22

What is the eternal consequence of such acts? Or, to ask the question in another way—what is the eternal consequence of holding unequal power in the first place? The separation here of the material and spiritual realm in the “right” use of power seems acceptable to Rahner. Many an imperial agenda has been bolstered by such interpretations of “right” being the possession of the “mighty.” He is

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simply providing a justification here for the powerful whose agendas blind them to the possibility of freedom outside of the logic of violence that the not-powerful may be seeking. Further, even though he is aware that the struggle for power indicates a relationship between “the upholders of freedom and the holders of power” (400), he does not seem to realize that violence is really a joint but unacknowledged project of the two parties. If, according to his position, violence provokes resistance, the perpetrators of violence must constantly calculate whether the reaction to continued or increased resistance will provoke an even more vigorous violence. They must then assess their willingness to risk retaliation. Those who oppress and those who are oppressed perpetuate violence precisely by maintaining a relationship based on secrecy and silence. Instead, Rahner overspiritualizes the exercise of power in the individual holding unequal power based in a very paternalistic view of such power:
. . . the human being loving and wise that is also powerful, is always struck and humbled by the dignity of the free human beings with regard to whom their power is exercised. In face of the others, this person is like the surgeon faced with the patient who seems at their mercy, but who has more power over the surgeon that s/he has over the sick human being, even if s/he uses their knife unasked and with the severity of genuine love. S/he exercises their power conscious that what they do remains subject to the dialectic of history, never fully succeeding, always somewhat thwarted . . . only they who strip [power] of power, by accepting the weakness of the cross, futility and death as salvation: only s/he who is ready to fail, even when they fight bravely— they alone do not sin when they exercise power. (400)

Rahner is limiting his statements to “the holders of power,” and not to the ones on whom such unequal power acts. In my consideration, such a view of power and freedom is rather simplistic and contradictory with his views of Indiferençia (principally its focus on the transformation of self ) and its practical aspect. First, for example, Indiferençia as the basis of ordinary mysticism challenges human beings to utilize their power to transform themselves and their world to bring all into alignment with God’s plans. Seen in that light, Indiferençia is the way in which the “mystical” leads to the ethical and vice-versa. As the “power to” influence the world in the powerful manner that Rahner envisions, Indiferençia definitely can work positively for those who have the “power over” and hold on to it. In this Rahner is coherent. However, Indiferençia needs to be able to demonstrate the same ability to transform society for


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those who have very little “power over.” What for example, is the role of prayer and surrender in the lives of such people? How does their life of seeking union with God transform their ethics in the context of cultures of survival? Further, if Indiferençia is the articulation of an existentiell Christology and the imitation of it, how does one on whom power acts unfairly attempt a Christology? Finally, power as an existential is open to transformation by God and self. What is the form of such transformed power in the context of violence? To answer these questions and deepen the idea of Indiferençia, we need to look at the corresponding idea of Ahimsa in the colonial violent context of India under English imperial power.

Mysticism of Identity and Mysticism of Love
This chapter has attempted to evaluate the proposal by Ashis Nandy to include “the language of the spirit” in the critical analysis of modernity’s construction of identity and ethics. It was argued that Nandy’s reading of Gandhi’s Ahimsa might find its correlate in the Rahnerian idea of Indiferençia. Nandy as was seen is more committed to the development of a stance of “cognitive indifference” before the disciplining forces of Western science and knowledges. Cognitive indifference is to be maintained in the face of the disabling logics of statism that marginalizes groups on the periphery of a perceived national “unity.” Scientific thought marked by disjunctive thinking further dispassionately bureaucratizes human suffering at the periphery. He argued in this regard that cognitive indifference would enable us to resist the lure of science and help create science as a more plural, internally diverse, and hybrid form. Finally, he is skeptical of all those forms of thought that take away accountability from the individual. The fatalistic focus on the so-called larger forces of history takes away attention from the need to change the systemic and structural. The practice of cognitive indifference, therefore, is a “nonengagement” with the analytic categories of modernity. Aiding such practice are the languages of continuity, spirit, and self aimed at decolonizing the mind and the spirit to develop empathy for those dehumanized. Nevertheless, Nandy himself is unable to reconcile the dichotomy between identity and ethics when his syncretic and hybrid mode errs on the side of being unmoored from any tradition. His retrieval of Gandhi therefore is only partial since Gandhi’s form of syncretism actively engaged with religious thought and identity. Nandy is willing to posit a form of metaphysical realism and say that he is unable to

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deny the language of the spirit simply because the divine Hindu pantheon grasps him unavoidably. In our itinerary of cognitive indifference, it was shown that there is a lot of convergence between a thinker such as Nandy and Rahner. Unlike the previous two sections, where Rahner has simply presented rather opposing agendas to those of the postcolonial theorists, here we have a possibility to rethink the relationship of theology with postcolonial theory. Bhabha and Spivak’s divergent foci are to be found in Nandy’s reading of hybrid religious identity and in the strategic deployment of gender as in Spivak. His analysis, which preceded Bhabha and Spivak’s more contemporary analyses, is less disjunctive than theirs. However, for postcolonial theology as such, Nandy’s proposal to include syncretic identity and the strategic use of weakness remains incomplete without amplification into a full-fledged practice. Here is where Rahner can help, but it turns out that he needs Nandy as much as Nandy needs him in the postcolonial context as well. Where Rahner would argue that a “passive” resistance to force would mean the self-destruction of the subject, a postcolonial thinker like Nandy has shown that Gandhi would stress that the strategic deployment of seeming passivity has tremendous power to preserve humanity within inhuman systems. Passivity here is similar to Rahner’s idea of attending, but attending here is defined more as attending the conversion that will imminently take place in the oppressor when confronted with Ahimsa. Moreover, Gandhi was providing a hybridized reading of Christian, Hindu, Jain, and Buddhist ethics in the colonial context. As an ethical hybrid, Gandhi was providing a denser and thicker reading of Christian ethics through his appropriation of Christian sources. This denser and thicker reading, however, results in a state of being, a disposition toward power that looks very like Indiferençia in my view. Ahimsa also attends the conversions of human organizations such as the economy and society. It eliminates the violence of difference through a deliberate search for points of unity, without rushing to unify. Since it presupposes an ethics based on friendship and one-on-one encounter, it is a disposition that employs essential human identity strategically—in the advancement of a vision of human relations based on love. It is the enactment of nonattachment to power, wealth, and prestige, an Indiferençia in the face of many current seductions of evil. In conclusion, what I have argued for is that the idea of Indiferençia as disposition before God in Rahner must expand to include, in equal measure, the ethical component that he insists is part of its equation. Therefore, being one with the Word in the world requires the specific


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commitment to openness, love, and transformation of self and other that is the essence in his theology of freedom. While Ahimsa may not be absolutely equated with Indiferençia, it follows the logic of Indiferençia more faithfully than the absolute separation of “love of neighbor” and violence as we have seen in Rahner. If Rahner were confronted with the idea of Ahimsa, it is quite likely that he would attribute it to “anonymous Christianity” (Jesudasan, 1984, 93).23 Such an anonymous Christianity exemplifies the best in anticolonial and postcolonial strategies such as hybridity, strategic essentialism, and nonviolence. The mystical dimension of spirituality thus becomes ever more concrete, by accentuating its existential-ethical elements. These elements, then, have to be shown to have a transformative effect in the context of structural violence. Where “identity” has become an ossified category under the logics of modern nationalism and globalization, a mysticism of identity leads us to imagine the boundaries charting such identity as porous. Grace here may arrive anonymously, as in the case of the Indians that Bhabha introduced us to, who receive the Word and its transgressive power without any requirement to forego their own specific religious or identity commitments. Where “Love” is co-opted to simply shore up ecclesial and political institutions, a mysticism of love in contrast allows us to incarnate our religious commitment in the encounter with the most invisible other. The mandate to “love one’s enemy” bears fruit as the existential-ethical response to the other in the colonial context resulting in an ethical system that seeks to transform both self and other through such a response. It befuddles ordinary binaries of power and gender by recognizing the dignity of subject positions that are normally degraded and stands in prophetic relation to self-authorizing systems of power. Finally, the mandate to “love one’s enemy,” invites its hearers to cultivate relationships in which the Word then has the freedom to accomplish its vision of transforming a human society aligned with God’s plan through its hearers. The Word of God escaping even ecclesiastical control will incarnate itself in surprising ways to overturn those systems that police the borders of identity and relationship. Mysticism then has an indelible ethical component (as Rahner has been asserting all along). But Indiferençia, as nonviolence, is the only way in which we may protect and preserve Rahner’s own vision of the ability and consequence of being able to “hear” the Word in the world, doing in the like manner that the Word commands us, seeking an ever-closer union with the Word through love of the least. Ordinary being in the world becomes a mysticism only when we dignify our common humanity by incarnating the nonviolent love in whose image we are created.

Chapter 5

Theology in the Postcolonial C ontext

There is a compelling need in the contemporary world to ask questions not only about the economics and politics of globalization, but also about the values, ethics and sense of belonging that shape our conception of the global world. In a nonsolitartist understanding of human identity, involvement with such issues need not demand that our national allegiances and local loyalties be altogether replaced by a global sense of belonging, to be reflected in the working of a colossal “world state.” . . . In resisting the miniaturization of human beings, with which this book has been concerned, we can also open up the possibility of a world that can overcome the memory of its troubled past and subdue the insecurities of its difficult present . . . we have to make sure above all, that our mind is not halved by a horizon. —Amartya Sen, Identity and Violence: The Illusion of Destiny

ho are we and how do we live together? The question has been a constant in the background to this book’s constructive theological examination of identity and inclusivity, ethics of self, others, and world as a whole. These issues, moreover, have particular urgency in the context of war, terror, and violence on an unprecedented scale. As mentioned in the preface, the original problem of reconceiving theological freedom in the context of postcolonial theory was an attempt to initiate a dialogue between theology and theoretical thought that complicates the manner in which theology presumes to speak to the problems of identity, ethics, and nonviolence. What I realized in my



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constructive proposals there was that even such a progressive theological vision such as Karl Rahner’s theology of freedom capitulates to the demands of the disciplining measures of ecclesial and academic institutions to render theological talk as a parallel discourse in society and the academy. Needless to say, the very same charge can be made of high postcolonial theory, with its comfortable elisions of religious and theological knowledge and capitulation to the demands of academic disciplinary conventions. The book consequently has attempted to think through these maneuvers in an attempt to forge a novel method of thinking theologically with issues of culture, namely, identity, ethics, and peaceful coexistence in mind, arguing for and taking advantage of the porous boundaries of theology and theory. As mentioned earlier as well, the theological context to which this book aims to contribute was initially given voice by Robert Schreiter in The New Catholicity: Theology between the Global and Local. Indeed, my very first stirring of interest in the ideas presented here had to do with the challenge Schreiter issued to postcolonial theory where he argued that even as postcolonial theorists are keenly interested in the ontology of the postcolonial subject (to be observed in the structural violence of token inclusion, racist exclusion, or invidious “othering”) they do not suggest alternate ontologies of peace and nonviolence, which ought to be the logical result of an ethics of alterity:
A second potential weakness lies with the theoretical assumptions behind globalized concepts of culture [such as postcolonial theory], at least in their postcolonial variety. By stressing the agonistic nature of culture, they succeeded in providing a very credible phenomenology of contemporary experience. But it leaves open an anthropological question: are human beings and human societies fundamentally, even ontologically violent? Many would appear to answer that question with a “yes,” saying that inasmuch as globalizing processes run on the energy of capitalism, they are bound to be violent. . . . But does not a critique of capitalist violence imply a peaceable alternative? Does not an ontology of peace need to ground the critique of violence? (Schreiter, 1997, 58, emphasis added)

In other words, Schreiter identified a constructive move to follow the critique of postcolonial theory that could be the purview of theology. The boundaries of postcolonial theory proved to be porous since it was established that postcolonial theorists are not involuntarily opposed to metaphysical thinking especially if it is able to take history, context, and analyses of power into account. Thus, Bhabha, for example, wishes to make a distinction between the subject of recognition and

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the “subject” who performs and enunciates hybridity of identity. Such a subject is well aware of the boundaries of identity that s/he has to negotiate and at the boundary performs the enunciative strategy that is ultimately an ethical demand for inclusivity. These strategies are always surprising and uncontrollable since Bhabha is specifically contesting the punctuality of the liberal individualist subject who never fails to turn up on cue in some forms of liberal and multicultural politics. That particular phenomenon was a staple of some of the naïve varieties of “contextual” theologies that simply reinforced the universality of the liberal individualist subject. Spivak too, as we saw clearly, expresses that we cannot evade the “metaphysical enclosure” in framing the basis of ethical action. Hence, essentialist categories that are deployed in service of strategies for seeking justice for women do not automatically reject a specific kind of historicized ontology. Finally, Nandy as we have seen actively engages metaphysics in his allusion to the “faith” of ordinary folks who attempt to counter the excesses of scientism and technicism. Since they are not naively opposed to all metaphysical speech, it signals the possibility for constructive speech in the margins of their liberation theory. They are all aware of the fact that theological, religious, and metaphysical claims impinge on their constructions of agency but demonstrate an inability and unwillingness to provide for religious and theological agency in the quest for justice. In turn, that move provides constructive theology with a unique opportunity to construct a response to the diagnoses provided by these theorists. Postcolonial theology can answer the lack of alternate ontologies of peace and nonviolence by braiding together1 the various strands of critique and development that arise in a critical dialogue between a “Eurocentric” and “Western” philosophical and theological perspective and an “Indian” and “Western/academic” theoretical and political perspective on freedom and agency. Such a “braiding” is neither peculiar to postcolonial contexts nor Euro-American contexts. Neither is it a singularity. The methodology instead is an attempt to actively engage the contingencies and ambiguities of our contemporary time revealed in the insistent discussions around identity, ethics, and peaceful coexistence. Engaging the ambiguities thrown up by such self-avowed stances on theoretical and theological engagement deliberately eschews the more “acceptable” ways of theoretical production in the academy. Schreiter (2005, 8–11), for example, argues that the academic (and popular) varieties of multiculturalism and postmodernism have been shown to be ethically deficient in the manner that they reinscribe what Bhabha


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calls the “punctual individualist subject.” The token inclusions and active exclusions performed by the academic and ecclesiastical authorities give lie to the stated goal of institutional authorities to account for the global identity of the Roman church or of Roman and Catholic theology. These identity-based maneuvers, as I have argued, are bankrupt modes of doing theology today. Nevertheless, the discipline of academic theology is not the only one to suffer such insolvency. Sophisticated forms of political theory (which grounds much postcolonial theoretical thought) and economic theory (which forms the background to the Marxist economic analysis preformed by Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, for example) all demonstrate the dyspepsia toward theology that theology in turn demonstrates to them. Postcolonial theology attempts to braid these varied strands, not with the goal of creating a unified and singular event of theological discourse, but with the goal of weaving a theological textile. Consider, for example, two most recent offerings by two of the brightest stars of the Euro-American academy. Writing within the disciplines of political and economic theory, Kwame Anthony Appiah (2005, 2006) and Amartya Sen (2006) navigate many of the issues that this book has attempted to map. The most urgent questions in political theory and economic theory are questions of identity, ethics, and peaceful coexistence. Both these authors provide solutions to the problems thrown up by the fall of postmodernity and multiculturalism by resolutely rooting them in a clearly secular framework. Both thinkers connect questions of political identity with ethical action by emphasizing the ethical over identity strategies or identity claims. However, much of their analysis intersects with the interests of intercultural theology: Appiah, for example, considerably expands on the idea of “cosmopolitanism” that Schreiter (2005) alludes to in his constructive move. What is of critical (and positive) interest for postcolonial theology’s concerns is the manner in which both thinkers connect questions of identity with ethical action. Appiah, for example, argues that the social form called “identity,” which includes genders and sexual orientations, ethnicities and nationalities, professions and vocations, is actually about making ethical claims (Appiah, 2005, Preface). These identities are routinely conferred a certain controlled space in the public realm by dominant logics and the contesting of the limits placed on them is a form of making ethical claims. Nevertheless, since these identity-based ethical claims are reactions to regnant forms of social arrangement, the very configuration of identity can be shown to be suspect. Identity, for example, works through a system of exclusions of power.

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He tells the story of an experiment conducted in 1953 with two groups of eleven-year-old boys in separate campsites in Oklahoma’s Robbers Cave State Park.2 The groups were fairly homogenous: white, Protestant, and middle class. The experiment looked at the manner in which group identity was created. Rivalry and competitiveness between the two groups led to differences being articulated in relation to the other group (2005, 63). Cultural identities, one can extrapolate, arise as a consequence of conflict and expressed differences in the manner that identity is constructed over and against the other group. Cultural identities further are much less the cause of conflict thus refuting the “clash of civilizations” social determinist thesis. Social determinist theories reify cultural identities and ignore the manner in which human social organizations deliberately seek to cooperate with each other when the need arises. Identity categories are much more plastic than we imagine. Appiah points out that the artificial parameters of identity changed when the experimenters provided stimuli in the form of a series of communal crises. “Necessity was the mother of amity” (113), Appiah notes; when the boys’ water and food supply was blocked by the experimenters, the warring factions had to learn to negotiate with each other for help to fix the camp’s sabotaged water system or to winch the broken food truck uphill. A series of crises led to a cooperative mien among the groups and led to the dissolution of the previously held social boundaries. A global requirement for cooperation faces the world in which we must think and act—shortages of food and water, education, medical attention, and rapidly depleting natural resources are creating the kind of situation in which we have to rethink our social arrangements. The absolute requirement of a global ethic that addresses these issues trumps any identity-based ethics in such a world. Appiah suggests that such a global ethic go by the name Cosmopolitanism, “a form of universalism that is sensitive to the ways in which historical context may shape the significance of a practice” (2005, 256), which does not in his view require a “robust theoretical agreement” in order to make decisions on shared practices. This is democracy in action. Cosmopolitanism is predicated on the common human capacity for reason, understood more broadly as the capacity to enter into the imaginative narratives of meaning making among various people or groups of people and to engage with them. Cosmopolitanism results in the conversation that takes place when ideas and people and films or art travel places in which they are grasped differently. For Appiah such difference is welcome and does not lead to the specter of relativism that is the inability to engage with the above in any meaningful way. A particular sort


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of “moral epistemology” (258) leading to an expansive imagination in conjuring up other worlds and other realities is the result of cosmopolitanism. In fact, it leads to an epistemological modesty that goes a long way in contributing to productive conversations between various groups. Nevertheless, the idea of “Cosmopolitanism” as articulated by Appiah seems to be more apt to the postcolonial theoretical world that has been challenged throughout this book. It provides for no theological or religious ground from which to conceive of identity or ethical action in service of civic polity and also does not address the problems of race, gender, class, and sexuality exclusions in a deliberate manner. Such a trend is also distressingly extended in Amartya Sen’s analysis of identity and violence that is brilliantly insightful in many respects but ignores the manner in which religious commitments can actively work toward addressing the context of violence in which postcolonial theological thinking must creatively point the way. Both Appiah and Sen argue for plural identities and Sen in particular castigates religion for constantly seeking to maintain and secure a unitary identity over and above other identities held. One can see the Enlightenment marginalizing of religion definitely playing a part here, but simultaneously, the drive in religious authorities to homogenize and unify in modernity also contributes to the marginalization of religion from discussions about reason and global human rights. Both modalities are to be seen in Sen’s analysis of identity and violence and in the unpacking in his argument of the fond stereotypes of North American media-driven idiom of “monolithic Middle Eastern cultures” and “the Western mind.” Underlying these stereotypical constructions is a way of mapping the world via religious or cultural divisions of identity. Sen calls this “civilizational or religious partitioning of the world’s population (that) yields a ‘solitarist’ approach to human identity” (Sen, 2006, Prologue). Such a solitarist approach in Sen’s evaluation is a foolproof way of misunderstanding everyone in the world. Rather than such singular or solitary identifications, Sen points out that most of us are aware almost all the time that we have plural identities that we are constantly prioritizing depending on the particular contexts we are operating in at any given time. However, identity and violence are intimately linked in a form of “martial art” whereby a sense of inevitability accompanies a particularly militant identity formation. Defeating violence utilizing such parameters of identity, be it religion, community, culture, nation, or civilization, is not possible in his estimation, because of the manner in

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which they partition the world. What we need instead is an understanding of how “diversely different” we are:
The hope of harmony in the contemporary world lies to a great extent in a clearer understanding of the pluralities of human identity, and in the appreciation that they cut across each other and work against a sharp separation along one single hardened line of impenetrable division. (Prologue, xiv)

Sen is right in his assessment that all forms of vested identity formations seek to pit superior claims against the perceived otherness of similar claims by different groups. Identity is carefully fostered in such cases to serve very narrow purposes and even narrower gains. Arguing that any form of essentialist identity construction is useful in any way to address the context of violence, Sen proposes that we use a reasoned public voice in countering the “miniaturization of people” by pointing out the multiple affiliations and allegiances of identity that people the world over negotiate daily. We need not do away with identity altogether argues Sen; in fact, identity provides for strong senses of richness and belonging. Sen’s argument is similar to Appiah’s here. Both argue that we have to become ever more aware of the manner in which one or the other reified identity formation is being deployed by a vested interest in fomenting violence toward the others with whom we may share geographic, economic, cultural, or political resources. In fact, we “incarcerate” human beings by providing them with singular identity that when tied to the illusion of destiny becomes increasingly unable to negotiate the violence thrown up by such formations. The attempt to singularize, homogenize and unify identity is at the heart of the problem of violence in our world according to Sen. He advocates the role of reason here in giving priority to the various affiliations and choices that we have before us to determine the course of action in any given situation. This rational ability to make a choice for identity-based action is freedom. Another critical distinction that Sen draws is between plurality and pluralism. The latter is part of the failed experiment of the West, enacted by its institutions both political and academic. Sen’s argument here echoes the argument against hybridity that Talal Asad makes in regard to Bhabha’s theory of hybridity of identity. In the absence of an analysis of power and how power creates and secures constructions of identity including its syncretized forms, what we have is the


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management of group identities. Sen would add here that the management of solitarist identities leads to the creation of the illusion of singular allegiances in communities that purport to be inclusive. Hence Great Britain, for example, is now dealing with homegrown indigenous terrorism that is a result of disaffected solitarist identity affiliations. The “pluralism” model simply does not work in his view because it is predicated on the understanding that identity is bounded. Sen points out that Gandhi, for example, took great offense to the depiction of India as a “federation of religions and communities” (Sen, 2006, 169). That pluralism model runs the risk of not understanding how the whole hangs together in India. As Sen describes, India is a nation which is at the moment led by a Sikh Prime Minister, headed by a Muslim President, and its ruling party headed by a nonnative woman with a Christian background. The religious affiliation of these people matters much less in India: no one constantly harps on the particular religious identity of these leaders in the day-to-day governance of the land. Sen here is content with stating that religious affiliations matter much less in the public sphere, but as I shall argue, something much more interesting is going on. We need to return to Gandhi’s understanding of identity here. As Sen maintains, Gandhi resisted the description of India as a federation of religious communities and identities. In Sen’s view this is evidence of Gandhi’s downplaying of religion in the political sphere. I disagree with this point. I believe, with Ashis Nandy, that a particular form of religious commitment was enacted by Gandhi in the public sphere and this had to do with hybridized identity formations. Example after example shows that the quotidian negotiations among religious groups that avoid the martial art of focusing on identity for supremacist purposes reveals an ability to embrace plurality: an inclusive strategy at the border of religious identity that reveals its porosity. Gandhi remained unimpressed by the colonial demand for distinct identity, focusing instead on the problem of administrative deficiencies that led to the more than 85 percent rural poor. As he reiterated time and time again to the uncomprehending British, he was a spokesperson for those poor and not for the Hindus as the British assumed him to be. Plurality in the Gandhian mode has to do with a specific understanding of identity. It is not the multiple forms of solitarist identity so favored by multiculturalists that is important; it is the ethical forms of inclusive identity that is more significant. Plurality also allows one to examine dimensions that have more ethical concern. “Gender” consequently becomes an important consideration as well. Sen points out that Gandhi specifically resisted Western forms of categorizing

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religious identity due to its preferred mode of ignoring issues of women. Here (as many other theorists have pointed out), Gandhi argued for “special representation” precisely because the frameworks of political deliberation were routinely built on the exclusion of women. Acknowledging plurality in other words requires the moment of strategic essentialism: where exclusions have been rife, the insertion of the excluded voice is a necessity. These issues are important to postcolonial theological thinking in the manner that they set in place the dialogical and constructive work of theological thinking for the twenty-first century. An initial question that I sought to answer was the very event of a “postcolonial theology.” I had attempted to describe it as an answer to a problem of epistemological and anthropological poverty. On the one hand, postcolonial theology is an attempt to address the epistemological poverty of Western humanism (Gandhi, 1998, 40) on which is based the theologies of freedom such as in Rahner. On the other hand, there is great need to attempt to address the anthropological poverty of previously colonized societies which as Robert Schreiter says: “grew out of the violence of colonization, in which local people were stripped of their identities or made to feel ashamed of them” (Schreiter, 1997, 117). I have argued that a theological imagination can make the boundaries between the disciplines of postcolonial theory and modern theology porous. Such an imaginative capacity is also defined by some postcolonial theorists as “subaltern reason”: a mode of critical and imaginative thinking that is characterized by its site of articulation at the margins of hegemonic knowledge. Walter Mignolo (2000, 86–118) and Ngugi Wa Thiongo (2000, 119–125) define it as “border gnosis” and “seeking connections between things,” respectively. Mignolo defines border gnosis as:
. . . a way of thinking from and beyond disciplines and the geopolitics of knowledge imbedded in Occidentalism and area studies; from and beyond colonial legacies; from and beyond the gender divide and sexual prescriptions; and from and beyond ethnic identities and racial conflicts. (89)

Border “gnosis” may have undesirable overtones in the professional theological circles, but my argument on practice as informing theoretical production should lay that to rest. The attempt to think through the divisions of human knowledge when imagining a decolonized forms of identity, ethics or civic, political and ecclesial polity requires the mode of disarticulation from firmly ensconced modes of rationality as has been demonstrated in the performance of this book.


I d e n t i t y, E t h i c s , a n d N o n v i o l e n c e

The “reason” that Appiah and Sen are arguing for is not the same “reason” that has bedeviled Western Humanism since the Enlightenment. Disarticulation from Western Humanism allows for a possibility of knowing, but knowing differently by laying down the ego and its need for absolute certitude and security. A second strand in the development of postcolonial theology is the question of the relationship of theology and culture. As the book has demonstrated, the world’s future is intrinsically tied to its spiritual and political destiny. A focus on one or the other that is, either spirituality or politics, or, one in service of the other, that is, spirituality in service of politics or vice versa, is a spurious solution for our world presently. The participatory life of the spirit expressed by millions around the world in their everyday practices of spirituality and the participatory life in the meaningful and reasonable forms of social life through which they negotiate identity and ethics are sources for a globalized world attempting to address the saturation of violent logics. Consequently, the political commitments of postcolonial theorists who ignore the spiritual bases of identity negotiations and ethical actions simply exacerbate their isolation and distance from the lives of ordinary people. However, political agendas that seek to capitalize on the spiritual ambiguities of the human condition display the moral and spiritual bankruptcy that propels their drive to power. Exclusivist logics in the name of identity, race, class, gender, and sexuality fail both their secular goal of participatory democracy as well as the spiritual goal of love for all. The work of theology and culture therefore is to engage in a mutually critical and enriching dialogue. As demonstrated in chapter 1, postcolonial theological thinking attempts to navigate the exclusivity of the disciplines that either include or exclude the particular concerns of postcolonial contexts in domains that are strictly secular or strictly theological. The next strand attempts to develop the three themes of significant interest to postcolonial theory and theology. Identity as we saw is not a bounded and rigid concept. Identity is polysemic, multiple, and constructive-performative. Hence, I argued in chapter 2 that postcolonial theological thinking attempts to examine the communicativeperformative dimension of identity especially in the encounter with unequal power. Hybridity of identity therefore, is as Bhabha argues, an enunciatory site but it is also as I argued, the site of religious and theological agency. Hence, Bhabha’s attempt to locate culture in the historical annals of conversion in India fails to note the particular personal conversion to the other that the Hindus were performing. They did convert in a manner of speaking. However, it was not a simple conversion of unified “identity.” It was a conversion of the boundary,

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which simply was redrawn to accommodate competing religious and theological claims within the religious and cultural Hindu worldview. The multireligious and multicultural milieu of the Indian subcontinent necessitates such moves. Every religious community that has survived in India demonstrates this capacity of conversion of the boundary. There are therefore, Hindu-Christians, Hindu-Muslims, and MuslimHindus. As noted in chapter 2, these inclusive identity formations are a result of a capacious theological and ethical imagination. Postcolonial theological ethics consequently has to do with the elucidation of the limits presented by race, class, and most importantly, gender. A feminist postcolonial ethics rigorously seeks the inclusion and embodied agency of the gendered subaltern, often the most mute member of liberation theories, philosophies, and theologies. Masculinist, heterosexist ethics, in fact, depend on the deliberate erasure of women, their agency, and history. The agential caress of the gendered subaltern illuminates the mode whereby mere “identity” claims become politically viable. Thus, it does not help to include the invisible racially and gendered subaltern in the tokenist manner of Western feminism. Space and resources have to be mobilized in such a manner that the gendered subaltern can speak for herself, and can be heard when she does speak or performs an interruption of masculinist and heterosexist frameworks. A key index of exclusion from ethical agendas of women in general and gendered subalterns in particular occurs when the reproductive value-coded body of woman finds its way into ethics. Spivak condemns contemporary capitalist exploitations of women’s bodies and rejects the heterosexist masculinist ethics of patriarchal institutions. Her proposal is in direct confrontation with the prescribed role for women’s agency within Catholicism. Nevertheless, a postcolonial theological imagination wrests a space for the excess and mystery where Spivak hesitates to go: the garden of the incarnation. Cultivating the garden of the incarnation means to be in the middle of ethics—as prescribed by the institutional church and as required by Spivak for agency on part of the gendered subaltern—a program that is bound to lead to brilliant failure. Brilliant failure however, the response within the incarnation to human violence has the potential to truly bring about conversions: of the boundary, of institutions, and of the self. The deliberate cultivation of modes of rationality, that is, the work involved in cultivating the garden of the incarnation so that the boundary becomes porous, requires a spiritual practice that includes unselving, and is a deliberate indifference practiced toward the self. Such unselving is primary to the phenomenon of ekstasis and of mystical practice. It has helped a great many


I d e n t i t y, E t h i c s , a n d N o n v i o l e n c e

people to find solutions to extremely modern and contemporary problems. Nandy therefore points to the practice of Ahimsa by Gandhi, which overturned racial and gendered logics in both the colonial as well as the domestic mindset. Nandy himself is skittish around theological and religious language. In my reading however, recognizing the intimate enemy is a result of unselving, a fruit of spiritual practice. Contemporary political theory such as those presented by Appiah and Sen circle around the problems of identity, ethics, religious affiliation, and freedom. Their influential political agendas point many ways forward for us: unselving, for example, has to be manifested in an openness to other identity claims, which Appiah calls “cosmopolitanism.” Sen calls for the exercise of reason in the development of intentional plurality within our identity constructions, which will go a long way in defusing the stridency of the competing claims around the globe. Both of these moves in political theory require an introspective practice that bears fruit for postcolonial peaceful coexistence. Constructive conversations with Western theologians such as Rahner are also part of such an agenda. As has been demonstrated in this book, Rahner’s methodology that is synthetic and hybrid can be brought into dialogue with the urgent questions of identity, ethics, and nonviolence for postcolonial theological thought. The theological assessment of postcolonial theory invites us to braid a truly “catholic” postcolonial theology that moves dialectically to and from its hybrid and essential moments. The dialogic performance results in intensifying the catholicity of Rahner’s theology as well as of postcolonial theory. Such is the vocation of the postcolonial theologian for, it is a postcolonial theological imagination that will counter the “miniaturization” of human beings that Sen bemoans and herald the ontologies of peace that intercultural theologians such as Robert Schreiter call for. This is also cosmopolitanism in action whereby the impetus for nonviolent communal amity in the world requires training in the catholicity of “both/and” thinking. It is in this regard that Nandy’s neo-Gandhian retrieval allows for a theological imagination open to the beyond. Such an imagination will allow us to learn from the poly/theistic world of the Hindus, Christians, Muslims, Sikhs, and Parsees among others in India, who constantly negotiate competing identity claims from within their respective capacious religious self-understanding. It will allow us room to be ethical by accepting the caresses of the most mute whose presence in the exclusive logics of church, nation, and family is foreclosed in masculinist selfinterest. It will allow us to practice unselving: a process whereby indifference to power and pride is manifested in the view that all life arises out of a bountiful goodness whose very name is love.


Chapter 1 Doing Theology in the Postcolonial Context: Issues and P roblems
1. Robert Schreiter (The New Catholicity: Theology between the Global and Local, 1997), pp. 21–23. Of more interest here is his explanation of revanchism as an attempt to regain lost territory. Unlike fundamentalism, which rejects modernity, this response to the forces of globalization embraces many aspects of modernity but seeks to reassert a hierarchalized central command structure. Postcolonial theology will have to take into account these forces of official control and address the effects of revanchism in the faith of ordinary people. 2. There are a number of studies that treat Rahner primarily as a theologian. Examples are: Anne Carr: The Theological Method of Karl Rahner (Missoula, MT: Scholars Press, 1977); Leo O’Donovan: Interview in America 140 (March 10, 1979): “Living into Mystery: Karl Rahner’s Reflections at 75”; John P. Galvin: “Grace for a New Generation,” Commonweal 25 (January: 1985). An exception is Thomas Sheehan: Karl Rahner: The Philosophical Foundations (Athens, OH: University Press, 1987). 3. See, for example, John Baillie: Our Knowledge of God (London, Humphrey Milford, 1939); Kenneth Baker: “Rahner: The Transcendental Method,” Continuum 2 (1964): 51–59; Vincent P. Branick: An Ontology of Understanding: Karl Rahner’s Metaphysics of Knowledge in the Context of Modern German Hermeneutics (St. Louis, Missouri: Marianist Communication Center, 1974); Ulrich Browarzik: Glauben und Denken: Dogmatische Forschung zwischen der Transzendentaltheologie Karl Rahners und der Offenbarungstheologie Karl Barths (Berlin: deGruyter, 1970); Joseph Donceel, The Philosophy of Karl Rahner (New York: Magi Books, 1969); Peter Eicher: Die anthropologische Wende: Karl Rahners philosophischer Weg vom Wesen des Menschen zur personalen Existenz (Freiburg, Schweiz: Universitätsverlag, 1970); Robert Evans, ed. The Future of Philosophical Theology (Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1971); Francis Schüssler Fiorenza, “Karl Rahner and the Kantian Problematic,” Introduction to Rahner’s Spirit in the


NOTES World (New York: Herder and Herder, 1968); Donald L. Gelpi, Life and Light: A Guide to the Theology of Karl Rahner (New York: Sheed and Ward, 1966); Alexander Gerkin: Offenbarung und Transzendenzerfahrung: Kritische Thesen zu einer kunftigen dialogischen Theologie (Dusseldorf: Patmos, 1969); Edward McKinnon, “The Transcendental Turn: Necessary but Not Sufficient,” Continuum 6 (1968): 225–231; Peter Mann, “The Transcendental or Political Kingdom?” New Blackfriars 50 (1969): 805–812 and 51 (1971): 4–16; Louis Roberts, The Achievement of Karl Rahner (New York: Herder and Herder, 1967). See, for example, Declan Marmion: A Spirituality of Everyday Faith: A Theological Investigation of the Spirituality of Karl Rahner (Louvain, Belgium: Peeter’s Press, 1998), p. 42. See also Herbert Vorgrimler, Karl Rahner: His Life, Thought and Work, trans. E. Quinn (Montreal: Palm Publications, 1965). Karl Rahner, “The Spirituality of the Church of the Future,” TI: 20, pp. 149–150, emphasis added. See also Declan Marmion’s point in A Spirituality of Everyday Faith: A Theological Investigation of the Spirituality of Karl Rahner explaining the German translation of the phrase “eine Erfahrung machen” that is normally translated as “to have an experience” but here is translated more literally to mark the active participation of the subject who has these experiences while making them, p. 42. Critical studies in this regard by Harvey Egan, Karl Rahner: Mystic of Everyday Life (New York: Crossroad Publishing Company, 1998); “ ‘The Devout Christian of the Future Will Be a Mystic’: Mysticism in Karl Rahner’s Theology,” in Theology and Discovery: Essays in Honor of Karl Rahner, ed. Karl Rahner and William Kelley (Milwaukee, WI: Marquette University Press, 1980), pp. 139–165. This thesis is closely explored in contemporary critical works such as R. Scott Appleby, Religion, Violence and Reconciliation (New York and Oxford: Rowman and Littlefield Publishers Inc., 1999); David G. Bromley and J. Gordon Melton, Cults, Religion and Violence (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002); Hent De Vries, Religion and Violence: Philosophical perspectives form Kant to Derrida (Baltimore, MD and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2002); Marc Gopin, Between Eden and Armageddon: The Future of World Religions, Violence and Peacemaking (London: Oxford University Press, 2000); Mark Juergensmeyer, Terror in the Mind of God: The Global Rise of Religious Violence (Berkeley and Los Angeles, CA: University of California Press, 2000). Of note here is the brilliant exposition of Metz’s thought by James Matthew Ashley, Interruptions: Mysticism, Politics and Theology in the Work of Johann Baptist Metz (Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 1998).








9. A word of explanation of these terms as Metz understands them. In explaining the Marxist challenge, Metz points to two crucial issues that must be dealt with by theology without resorting to “intellectual hibernation.” The first challenge is an epistemological one and challenges the idea of truth as somehow beyond individual interests. A postidealist theology takes seriously this charge and wishes to take political, social, and economic implications into account. Second, there is a particular view of history that is challenged by Marxism. Political theology stresses that there is no dualism in its conception of history, as it presents a history of salvation where even past suffering has hope. It presents a faith in universal liberation, where all persons will be able to be subjects. 10. Auschwitz presents the challenge to theology because it stands apart from a view of history as singular and rather presents history as a plurality of histories, especially of suffering. This is “memoriapassionis,” without which subjectivity is reduced to mere anthropomorphism. The footnote to the end of this section reveals Metz’s idea of subject/subjectivity. Subject is not to be considered apart from their social and political milieu. In fact, thinking of suffering under “identity-constraints” is detrimental to political theology. (See also F.S. Fiorenza’s explanation of this idea in “Political Theology and Latin American Liberation theologies,” p. 280). 11. Of critical importance to my project here is Metz’s pointed question “What does it mean for Catholic theology that the church no longer has a third-world church, but is more and more a third-world church with constitutive history of origins in Europe? Theology cannot but become political in such a changed environment of a ‘culturally polycentric global church.’ ” Following Rahner’s suggestion, Metz maintains that we are now in the third epoch of worldwide cultural polycentrism, which necessarily impacts theology and European monocentricism. 12. Ashis Nandy: The Intimate Enemy: Loss and Recovery of Self under Colonialism (New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1983). Consider also what recent scholarship asserts with regard to the significance of Nandy. Robert J.C. Young, (2001) writes: Though far less acknowledged than Said’s Orientalism, Intimate Enemy was one of the books that contributed most to setting up the basic framework of the theoretico-political environment of postcolonial studies in India, among diasporic Indian intellectuals and through them, across the whole field. (p. 340) 13. Leela Gandhi in this regard defines what “gendered subaltern” means: By “subaltern,” Spivak meant the oppressed subject, the members of Antonio Gramsci’s “subaltern classes,” or, more generally, those of inferior rank. [Spivak] was following on the work begun in the early 1980s by a collective of intellectuals now known as the Subaltern Studies



group . . . Spivak’s famous interrogation [Can the gendered subaltern speak?] of the risks and rewards which haunt any academic pursuit of subalternity drew attention to the complicated relationship between the knowing investigator and the (un)knowing subject of subaltern histories. (Gandhi, 1998, pp. 1–2) 14. “Failure” is being used by Bhabha to mean something other than the opposite of “success.” It is understood more in the (rather Christian) manner of E.M. Forster, “In India, there are many failures and some of them succeed”—from A Passage to India. Ashis Nandy makes reference to this idea of failure and Foster’s presentation of failure in India in The Intimate Enemy. 15. See Kathryn Tanner’s perceptive account of boundary and Christian identity in Theories of Culture: A New Agenda for Theology (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 1997), pp. 110–119. 16. In the Introduction to The Study of Spirituality (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1986), the authors Cheslyn Jones, Geoffrey Wainwright, and Edward Yarnold, SJ assert that the word “spirituality” has a very recent provenance and that what it has come to mean is very new. In its original English usage, for example, it was employed as a noun referring to the clergy. It then came to mean “things of the spirit” and developed a connection to devotion and piety. In French, the word was associated negatively with the Quietist movement of the seventeenth century, but eventually by the nineteenth century it had come to mean a description of the ways of prayerful piety. Most contemporarily, the meaning has come to mean a way of life that is oriented to all reality. Here, even though the word “spirituality” is acknowledged to have a Christian provenance, the contemporary practitioners of spirituality may not be Catholic or even Christian. My use of the word “spirituality” is best associated with the last meaning, for in the postcolonial political context it was Gandhi, a Hindu, who demonstrated the viability of spirituality for politics.

Chapter 2 Negotiating Cultural and Religious Identity in the Postcolony
1. See Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, Truth and Tolerance: Christian Belief and World Religions (San Francisco, CA: Ignatius Press, 2004): . . . we should understand two other fundamental concepts of the Christian faith, which have become unmentionable nowadays: conversion (conversio) and mission. The opinion has become nearly general these days that conversion should be understood to mean a turning point in one’s inner path but not a transition from one religion to another and thus, not a transition to Christianity. The notion that all religions are ultimately equivalent appears as a



2. 3.




commandment of tolerance and respect for others; if that is so, then one must respect the decision of another person who desires to change religions, but it is not permissible to call this conversion: that would assign a higher status to the Christian faith and thus contradict the idea of equality. The Christian has to resist this ideology of equality. (p. 105) I am indebted to Meg Guider for this point. Robert Schreiter, The New Catholicity: Theology between the Global and the Local, (New York: Maryknoll, 1997), pp. 46–61. Schreiter points out the difference between integrated concepts of culture that have been significant since Vatican II within Roman Catholic theology and globalized concepts of culture that advance the notion of a ground of contest in relations. Each mode of defining culture allows for advantages; in the case of one, the advantages are holism, conjunctive ways of thinking, harmony, and resistance against the more corrosive effects of capitalism and the market mentality of globalization. In the case of the other advantages such as forwarding the fragmented, conflictual and disoriented reality of experience together with a cogent analysis of power are obtained. The explanation of this idea is going to be necessarily brief here. Fuller scholarly explanations are to be found in William V. Dych: Karl Rahner, A Michael Glazier Book, (Collegeville, MN: The Liturgical Press, 1992), pp. 38–46; Thomas Sheehan, Karl Rahner: The Philosophical Foundations (Athens, OH: Ohio University Press, 1987), pp. 55–96; George Vass, A Theologian in Search of a Philosophy: Understanding Karl Rahner, vol. I (Westminster, London: Sheed & Ward, 1985), pp. 31–57. It is the trope of our times to locate the question of culture in the realm of the beyond . . . the beyond is neither a new horizon, nor a leaving behind of the past . . . . “Beginnings and endings may be the sustaining myths of the middle years; but in the fin de siècle, we find ourselves in the moment of transit where space and time cross to produce complex figures of difference and identity, past and present, inside and outside, inclusion and exclusion . . . ” (Bhabha, The Location of Culture, p. 1). See Cardinal Ratzinger, Truth and Tolerance: Christian Belief and World Religions (San Francisco, CA: Ignatius Press, 2003), pp. 16–17. In an earlier work, Principles of Catholic Theology: Building Stones for a Fundamental Theology (San Francisco, CA: Ignatius Press, 1987), Ratzinger argues that the idea of the anonymous Christian in Rahner is located in his presentation of human subjectivity. Hence, revelation loses its extrinsic character and becomes lodged firmly in the inner reality of the human being (p. 163). In my view, this assertion overemphasizes subjectivity in relation to the anonymous Christian in Rahner. Ratzinger moves to strike at the individualism of Rahner’s foundation of subjectivity and deplores the synthesizing elements in Rahner’s theology that attempts to bring coherence to the system. A “spirituality of conversion,”



he avers (p. 169), would mean not the conceptually cohesive presentation of freedom as in Rahner, but the “event of the new and unexpected” in the person of Jesus Christ who leads us out of ourselves into the ambiguity of the other, the particular, the apparently no-necessary and free” (p. 171). My reading of Rahner actually argues that these very elements are present in a different interpretation of Rahner’s anonymous Christianity, by emphasizing love of Christ through love of neighbor. While Ratzinger mobilizes criticism of Rahner’s reliance on subjectivity for his arguments against anonymous Christianity, I am emphasizing that anonymous Christianity is a spiritual tactic to find Christ in the other, the human, and the very particular. My interpretation of anonymous Christianity therefore falls in line with Ratzinger’s proposals for a spirituality of conversion. 7. See Rahner: Today everybody is the next door neighbor and spiritual neighbor of everyone else in the world. And so everybody today is determined by the intercommunication of all those situations of life, which affect the whole world. Every religion which exists in the world is—just like all cultural possibilities and actualities of other people—a question posed, a possibility offered, to every person. And just as one experiences someone else’s culture in practice as something relative to one’s own and as something existentially demanding so it is involuntarily with alien religions. They have become part of one’s existential situation— no longer merely theoretically but in the concrete—and we experience them therefore as something, which puts the absolute claim of our own Christian faith into question. (TI: 5, 117) 8. See Ratzinger, 1987, 169–171.

Chapter 3 Embodied Ethics in the Postcolony
1. “Subaltern” is defined as “illiterate peasantry, aboriginals and the lowest strata of the urban subproletriat” in Critique of Postcolonial Reason, p. 269. The “gendered subaltern” therefore is over-determined by race, class, gender, and ethnicity. 2. See Stephen Morton, Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak (London and New York: Routledge, Taylor and Francis Group, 2003), pp. 17–20 for an accessible explanation of this idea. Also, refer to Spivak, 1990: 1–16 for Spivak’s presentation of this idea: As far as I understand it, the notion of textuality should be related to the notion of the worlding of a world on a supposedly uninscribed territory. When I say this, I am thinking basically about the imperialist project, which had to assume that the earth that it territorialized was in fact previously uninscribed. So then, a world, on a simple level of cartography, inscribed what was presumed to be








8. 9.

uninscribed. Now this worlding is also a texting, textualising, a making into art, a making into an object to be understood. Quoted in Spivak: “French Feminism Revisited” (1993, p. 165). From Irigaray’s Face to Face with Levinas: The fecundity of a love whose gesture or the most elementary gesture remains caress . . . the other’s hand, these palms with which he approaches me without crossing me, give me back the borders of my body and call me to the remembrance of the most profound intimacy [of the child-in-the-mother]. Caressing me, he bids me neither to disappear nor to forget, but to rememorate the place where, for me, the most secret life holds itself in reserve . . . Plunging me back into the maternal entrails and, before that conception, awakening me to another—amorous—birth. It must be pointed out that Spivak resists being described as a “deconstructionist.” See “Revolutions That as Yet Have No Model: Derrida’s “Limited Inc.” in The Spivak Reader, pp. 75–106. The Subaltern Collective publishes a highly acclaimed series called Subaltern Studies, the primary aim of which is to challenge the dominant modes of retelling India’s past. They are highly critical of Indian nationalism, which they have found to be imbued with both colonial as well as bourgeois-nationalist elitism. The objective of such a critical perspective on Indian history is to make clear the agency and voice of the subalterns, who are shown to be agents that mapped their own histories in a rather different manner than that laid out by nationalist elite politicians. Note that for Rahner embodiedness refers to our general experience of corporeality and not the fact of difference of gender and race. The false unity implied through such a general understanding of corporeality is precisely what feminists, race theorists, and postcolonial theorists critique. Feminists will point to the exclusion in masculinist philosophy and theology—of women, their subjectivity, their ethical orientations, and their agency or freedom. Rahner is referring here to the Thomistic idea of Charity as the supreme supernatural virtue infused into the soul by sanctifying grace. However, a feminist and political gloss on the idea of “Charity” as “Love” reveals their deep suspicion that this term is connected to imperialist agendas of civilizing missions. Note also reappearance and rewriting of this paragraph in the later Critique of Postcolonial Reason, p. 382. See footnote 97 in Critique of Postcolonial Reason, p. 383. She is being critical of Derrida here because he writes of “aimance” (cf. Derrida’s Politics of Friendship) in a particular way that obscures and shackles its political potential in her view. In her estimation, such attempts at “friendship” simply behave predictably in the interests of capital where elite interests who really do not “love” in the manner that Spivak is calling for neatly appropriate indigenous knowledges.



10. (http://www.nd.edu/~remarx/rm/contents/rm12–4.html). 11. Critical Marxist feminists take great issue with Spivak in this regard. Also note the dyspeptic review of Spivak’s Critique of Postcolonial Reason by Terry Eagleton, “In the Gaudy Supermarket,” London Review of Books 21 (10), May 13, 1999 (http://www.lrb.co.uk/ v21/n10/eagl01_.html). I think that Spivak’s view is significant because it is opposed to critical Marxist views of agency as “free choice.” 12. Spivak does not use the word “mystery.” This word is my deliberate misreading of Spivak who is of course performing a misreading of Derrida’s understanding of the “secret.” She is speaking of human encounter; Derrida is speaking of reading a text. John Caputo says that for Derrida the secret is that there is no secret: no hidden semantic content, no privileged access, no transcendental signified, no hyperessential intuition, no Ding an sich to which we have extratextual (extraterrestrial) access. There is no escape from the surface of the text, and hence no way to put to rest our interpretive controversies. If our hearts are restless until they rest in the secret, then, in this Jewish Augustianism, they will never rest. Indeed that is just what is productive about the secret and why it impassions. (Caputo, 1997 34) Thus, the existence of the secret reveals something—that there is a “depth dimension” in human encounter. 13. Gayatri Spivak, Imaginary Maps: Three Stories by Mahasweta Devi (New York and London: Routledge, 1995), Preface, original emphasis. It is also very interesting to contrast this paragraph with the more recent rewrite of it in Critique of Postcolonial Reason, p. 384: One word on ethical singularity, not a fancy name for mass contact or for engagement with the common sense of the people. It is something that may be described by way of the following situation, as long as we keep in mind that we are a) phenomenalizing figures and b) not speaking of radical alterity: We all know that when we engage profoundly with one person, the responses—answers—come from all sides. Let us call this responsibility, as well as “answer”ability or accountability . . . yet on both sides there is always a sense that something has not got across. This is what we call the secret, not something that one wants to conceal, but something that one wants desperately to reveal in this relationship of singularity and accountability. 14. Irigaray herself would never describe herself as a Christian believer. For an analysis of Irigaray’s influence on Christian feminism, see “Feminist Theology” in Modern Christian Thought (New Jersey: Prentice Hall, 2000, pp. 417–442). Nevertheless, her discussions often elaborate Christian themes and Christian practices. See, for example, French Feminists on Religion: A Reader, ed. Morny Joy, Kathleen O’Grady, and Judith L. Poxon (London and New York: Routledge, 2002), pp. 13–81.



15. Rahner’s view is instructive in “The ‘Commandment’ of Love,” p. 450: . . . contemporary theology, by dispassionately making room for a temporal series of moral acts which only gradually lead to love, has made real progress. Modern theology has thereby reached a really much more serious consideration of the historical dimension than was the case with St. Thomas. Yet, on the other hand, Thomas in particular has every right to warn us in this question against conceiving this successive nature in too primitive a way (and the average moral theology today urgently requires correction on this point by Thomas). While holding fast to the now normal representation of the “processus justificationis,” it is also very important to realize that the basic decision of love is not just something which is also due at sometime or another (saepius in vita) but that, by the very nature of personal reality, it characterizes rather that beginning of the human being’s spiritual history which, as a genuine source continues to govern the development of this historical life of the spirit into the individual virtues. 16. Edward C. Vacek in Love, Human and Divine: The Heart of Christian Ethics, (Washington, DC: Georgetown University Press, 1994) presents a perceptive reading of Eros in Catholic theology (pp. 239–257). Aquinas, for example, can be thought of as the “apostle of Eros” (244), but at times makes Eros out to be a form of ethical egoism. Eros properly, however, has the qualities that Aquinas describes of being a “self-love,” which genuinely finds its fulfillment in the love of the beloved other. I believe that the encyclical is drawing on this tradition. The drawing out of self into the other (ekstasis) also seems to be a recurring trope in Benedict’s writings.

Chapter 4 Spirituality and Nonviolent Polity in the Postcolony
1. Ahimsa means non-violence. It formed the basis of the freedom movement in India in its bid for independence from European colonial powers, notably the British. Ahimsa is Sanskrit for the avoidance of himsa or injury to sentient beings. 2. Philip Endean in Karl Rahner and Ignatian Spirituality (Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 2001), says in this regard that Rahner consistently presented “Indifferent Freedom” in misspelled Spanish as Indiferençia. See Endean, note 75, p. 88. I have retained Rahner’s original misreading here since it hints subtly at the heterogeneous provenance of his mystical theology. 3. Leela Gandhi makes a similar assertion with regard to Gandhi and postcolonial theory: . . . the careful retrieval of figures like Gandhi and Fanon is instructive to postcolonial theory. For when this theory returns to the


NOTES colonial scene, it finds two stories: the seductive narrative of power, and alongside that, the counter-narrative of the colonized politely, but firmly, declining the come-on of colonialism. (Leela Gandhi, Introduction to Postcolonial Theory [Edinburgh, Edinburgh University Press, 1998]), p. 22. See the excellent essay in Bonfire of Creeds, “Introduction: A Dialogue with Ashis Nandy” by Gustavo Esteva and Madhu Suri Prakash (New Delhi: Oxford University Press: 2004), pp. 1–16. See Robert J.C. Young, Postcolonialism: An Historical Introduction (Oxford: Blackwell Publishing, 2001), pp. 325–327. Young says: Gandhi’s politics, by transgressing conventional political categories and forms, and the normative distinction between public and private spaces through which they operated, opened up possibilities that have been increasingly appropriated by the postcolonial left. His policy of non-violence, as commentators have noted, was accompanied by a strategic, transgressive role-playing at the level of gender which made it more difficult for the colonial government to respond in the ways with which it normally dealt with anti-colonial resistance. (emphasis added) Young in Postcolonialism asserts also that Gandhi’s invoking of the feminine in political contexts befuddled both colonial as well as gender politics simultaneously. While Gandhi became more stereotypically “feminine” in Western eyes, he became more “androgynous” in Indian eyes (p. 327). We see therefore the fruit of strategically deploying gender as Spivak argues even though Gandhi and Spivak differ in their respective strategies. Nandy writes (1983, pp. 53–54): First, the concept of naritva (womanhood), so repeatedly stressed by Gandhi nearly fifty years before the women’s liberation movement began, represented more than the dominant Western definition of womanhood. It included some traditional meanings of womanhood in India, such as the belief in a closer conjunction between power, activism, and femininity than between power, activism and masculinity. It also implied the belief that the feminine principle is a more powerful, dangerous and uncontrollable principle in the cosmos than the male principle. But even more central to this concept of womanhood was the traditional Indian belief in the primacy of maternity over conjugality in feminine identity. This belief specified that woman as an object and source of sexuality was inferior to woman as source of motherliness and caritas. Gandhi’s fear of human sexuality, whatever its psychodynamic explanation in Gandhi’s personal history, was perfectly consistent with this reading of Indian culture. M.K. Gandhi, “Reply to Lala Lajpat Rai,” in The Writings of M. K. Gandhi, Raghavan N. Iyer (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1986), pp. 211–214.








9. While this is a worthy idea, Bresnahan is reasserting very problematic orientalizing views of “others.” Spivak, for example, would scoff at the idea that all Hinduism has “profound reverence” for living things and that Europeans somehow invented violence. 10. Mystagogy is defined by Rahner as the manner in which individuals are made aware of the experiences of transcendence in their lives, which take place without their awareness of it. See Rahner, 1978, p. 59. See also James J. Bacik, Apologetics and the Eclipse of Mystery: Mystagogy according to Karl Rahner (Notre Dame, IN: Notre Dame University Press, 1980); Anne Carr: “Starting with the Human,” in A World of Grace: An Introduction to the Themes and Foundations of Karl Rahner’s Theology, ed. Leo J. O’Donovan (New York: The Seabury Press, 1980); Stephen Duffy, The Dynamics of Grace: Perspectives in Theological Anthropology, (Collegeville, MN: The Liturgical Press, 1993); Harvey Egan, Mystic of Everyday Life (New York: Crossroad, 1998); Roger Haight, The Experience and Language of Grace (New York: Paulist Press, 1979); Thomas O’Meara, “A History of Grace,” in A World of Grace, ed. Leo J. O’Donovan (New York: Seabury Press, 1980, pp. 76–91). 11. In this connection, historical studies such as Williston Walker, Richard A. Norris, David W. Lotz, and Robert T. Handy, A History of the Christian Church (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1985), p. 507, mention that “Indiferençia” traditionally upheld the hierarchical church. Rahner takes pains to expand the idea of Indiferençia. 12. “Religious Enthusiasm and the Experience of Grace,” Theological Investigations, vol. 16, pp. 35–51. See also Rahner’s The Practice of Faith: A Handbook of Contemporary Spirituality (New York: Crossroad, 1984) and “Ignatius of Loyola Speaks to a Modern Jesuit,” in Ignatius of Loyola, ed. Paul Imhof, trans. Rosaleen Ockenden (London: Collins, 1979), p. 11. 13. In this regard see Philip Endean, Karl Rahner and Ignatian Spirituality, who asserts that for Rahner, the classic locus of such experiential coming to awareness of God is in the Ignatian Exercises. He therefore concludes that Ignatius may have much more influence on Rahner than the systematic thinkers such as Maréchal or Heidegger. Because the Exercises are a process of prayer, they help lead people into a deeper and more profound experience of God in their everyday lives. The focus on “experience” allows us to consider the relationship in Rahner between theology and lived spirituality. Endean comments here that through Bonaventure (among others), Rahner’s theology informed by Ignatian spirituality was about “everyday human experience.” 14. Nanda, Meera. 2003. http://www.mukto-mona.com/Articles/ vedic_science_Mira.htm 15. Philip Endean argues that the immediate experience of God that one seeks to cultivate in Indiferençia also means detaching from


NOTES one’s own sense of survival. The experience in other words “anticipates death” (Endean, Karl Rahner and Ignatian Spirituality, p. 15). See the following quote by Nandy from Outlook India, June 21, 2004: These ideas of tolerance in ordinary people and everyday life are tinged with popular religious beliefs, however superstitious, irrational and primitive they may seem to progressive, secular Indians. Modern India, till today, has not produced a single hero of secularism except for that fading star, Jawaharlal Nehru. If Ashoka, Akbar, Kabir and Gandhi, whose names the secularists routinely mouth, could do without the concept of secularism, so can the people of South Asia. They do not need leaders, vanguards, preachy academics or journalists vending fancy theories to educate them in the niceties of tolerance and respect for other faiths. The time has come for us to decipher the language and culture of those humble Indians who live by their “inferior” beliefs and have made our society livable. Hindu Nationalistic rhetoric that engages in a particularly spurious form of identity politics. Nandy asserts that the Gods and Goddesses are alive and well in places such as Malaysia and Indonesia (Time Warps, 2002, note 3, p. 131). Nandy concedes here that this story may be apocryphal (Time Warps, 2002, pp.133–134). Nandy defines “existential consciousness” as atman and maintains that “attribute consciousness” is what modern psychology studies. A peculiar splitting of self is attendant on the condition of continued subjugation—the self in order to ensure survival separates the violence and humiliation heaped on itself from its “essential self” that is identified with its existential consciousness. The survivor ensures that s/he is in the world, but not of it (1983, p. 109). See, for example, “Theology as Biography,” in Faith in History and Society (New York: Seabury, 1980), p. 228, which is an excursus adapted from a tribute that Metz wrote on Rahner’s seventieth birthday titled Karl Rahner—ein theologisches leben. Theologie als mystische Biographie eines Christenmenschen heute. Note here that Rahner has shifted his position from this position in Foundations of Christian Faith with regard to the disempowered and their bid for power. Ignatius Jesudasan for example would assert that Gandhi is an example of Rahner’s “anonymous Christian”: A Christology inspired by the spirit or self-understanding of Jesus, as that self-understanding is appropriated in faith, must recognize in Gandhi’s discipleship to, and imitation of, truth or self-sacrificing love, an eminent example of what Karl Rahner terms “anonymous Christianity.” Gandhi’s own self-understanding, as dedicated to truth and self-sacrificing love, implicitly reproduces a central aspect of Jesus’ own self-understanding. In other words, the Hindu


17. 18. 19. 20.






Gandhi fulfilled in his life the injunction of St. Paul to the Christians at Philippi: “In your minds you must be the same as Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 2: 5)

Chapter 5 Theology in the Postcolonial Context
1. Kathryn Tanner in Theories of Culture: A New Agenda for Theology (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 1997), p. 92, has issued such a challenge to theology: In contrast to what the values of clarity, consistency and systematicity might suggest of themselves, even academic theologians do not simply follow logical deductions where they lead or the dictates of abstract principles when arriving at their conclusions. They do not construct their theological positions by applying generalities to particular cases, or emend them by trying to reproduce the same clear meanings in terms of a new day so as to convey them across putatively accidental differences in circumstance and vocabulary. Instead they operated by tying things together—the Latin meaning of religare, after all, is to bind. 2. Cited in Kwame Anthony Appiah, The Ethics of Identity (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2005), note 1, p. 295: Muzafer Sherif, O.J. Harvey, B White, William R. Hood, and Carolyn Sherif, The Robbers Cave Experiment: Intergroup Conflict and Cooperation (Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University Press, 1988).

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Karl Rahner: Primary Sources

Rahner, Karl. 1939. Aszese Und Mystik in der Väterzeit, Ein Abriss (Freiburg in Breisgau: Herder). ———. 1960. Free Speech in the Church (New York: Sheed & Ward). ———. 1963a. The Christian Commitment (New York: Sheed and Ward). ———. 1963b. The Church and the Sacraments, Quaestiones Disputatae 10 (New York: Herder and Herder). ———. 1963c. Visions and Prophecies, Quaestiones Disputatae 4 (London: Burns and Oates). ———. 1963d. Theological Investigations Vol. 2 Man in the Church, trans. Karl Kruger (Baltimore, MD: Helicon Press). “Freedom in the Church,” pp. 89–107 “The Resurrection of the Body,” pp. 203–216. “On the Question of a Formal Existential Ethics,” pp. 217–234. “The Dignity and Freedom of the Human Being,” pp. 235–263. ———. 1964a. Das Dynamische in der Kirche (Freiburg in Breisgau: Herder, 1958), trans. by W.J. O’Hara: The Dynamic Element in the Church (New York: Herder and Herder). ———. 1964b. The Dynamic Element in the Church, trans. William J. O’Hara, Quaestiones Disputatae 12 (London: Burns and Oates). ———. 1966a. Theological Investigations Vol. 4: More Recent Writings, trans. Kevin Smyth (Baltimore, MD: Helicon Press). “The Concept of Mystery in Catholic Theology,” pp. 36–73. “Nature and Grace,” pp. 165–188. “On the Theology of the Incarnation,” pp. 105–120. “The Theology of Power,” pp. 391–409. “The Theology of the Symbol,” pp. 221–252. ———. 1966b. Theological Investigations Vol. 5: Later Writings, trans. Karl-H. Kruger (Baltimore, MD: Helicon Press). “Thoughts on the Possibility of Belief Today,” pp. 2–12. “Christianity and Non-Christian Religions,” pp. 115–134. “ Christianity and the New Human Being,” pp. 135–157.



“Christology within an Evolutionary View of the World,” pp. 157–192. “Some Remarks on the Question of Conversions,” pp. 315–335. “The ‘Commandment’ of Love in Relation to the Other Commandments,” pp. 439–459. ———. 1967. Theological Investigations Vol. 3: The Theology of the Spiritual Life, trans. Karl-H and Boniface Kruger (Baltimore, MD: Helicon Press). “On Conversion to the Church,” pp. 373–384. “The Eternal Significance of the Humanity of Jesus for Our Relationship with God,” pp. 35–46. “The Ignatian Mysticism of Joy in the World,” pp. 277–298. “The Passion and Asceticism,” pp. 58–85. “Priest and Poet,” pp. 294–317. “Reflections on the Theology of Renunciation,” pp. 47–57. “Reflections on the Experience of Grace,” pp. 86–90. “Thoughts on the Theology of Christmas,” pp. 24–34. ———. 1968. On Prayer (New York: Paulist Press). ———. 1969a. “The Concept of Existential Philosophy in Heidegger,” Philosophy Today 13: 126–137. ———. 1969b. Grace and Freedom, trans. Hilda Graef (New York: Herder and Herder). ———. 1969c. Theological Investigations. Vol. 6: Concerning Vatican Council II, trans. Karl-H and Boniface Kruger (Baltimore, MD: Helicon Press). “Anonymous Christians,” pp. 390–399. “The Man of Today and Religion,” pp. 3–20. “Reflections on the Contemporary Intellectual Formation of Future Priests,” pp. 113–140. “Reflections on Dialogue within a Pluralistic Society,” pp. 31–42. “Reflections on the Unity of the Love of Neighbor and the Love of God,” pp. 231–249. “A Small Question regarding the Contemporary Pluralism in the Intellectual Situation of Catholics and the Church,” pp. 21–30. “Theology of Freedom,” pp. 178–196. ———. 1971. Theological Investigations Vol. 7: Further Theology of the Spiritual Life 1, trans. David Bourke (New York: Seabury Press). “Being Open to God as Ever Greater,” pp. 25–45. “Christian Living Formerly and Today,” pp. 3–24. “I Believe in the Church,” pp. 100–118. “Intellectual Honesty and Christian Faith,” pp. 47–71. ———. 1972. Theological Investigations Vol. 9: Writings of 1965–67, 1, trans. Graham Harrison (New York: Herder and Herder). “Atheism and Implicit Christianity,” pp. 145–164.



“Christian Humanism,” pp. 187–204. “The Historicity of Theology,” pp. 64–82. “Self-realization and Taking up One’s Cross,” pp. 253–257. “Theology and Anthropology,” pp. 28–45. ———. 1974a. “Ein Brief an K. Fischer,” in K. Fischer, Der Mensch als Geheimnis: Die Anthropologie Karl Rahners (Freiburg in Breisgau: Herder), pp. 400–410. ———. 1974b. The Shape of the Church to Come, trans. and intro. Edward Quinn (London: SPCK). ———. 1974c. Theological Investigations Vol. 11: Confrontations 1, trans. David Bourke (New York: Seabury Press). “Reflections of Methodology in Theology,” pp. 68–114. “Theological Considerations on Secularization and Atheism,” pp. 166–214. ———. 1975a. Christians at the Crossroads (London: Burns and Oates). ———. 1975b. Encounters With Silence, trans. J. Demske (London: Burns and Oates). ———. 1975c. Theological Investigations Vol. 13: Theology, Anthropology, Christology, trans. David Bourke (New York: Seabury Press). “Experience of Self and Experience of God,” pp. 122–132. “Institution and Freedom,” pp. 105–121. “On Recognizing the Importance of Thomas Aquinas,” pp. 3–12. ———. 1976. Theological Investigations Vol. 14: Ecclesiology, Questions in the Church, The Church in the World, trans. David Bourke (New York: Seabury Press). “Observations on the Problem of the “Anonymous Christian,” pp. 280–313. ———. 1977a. Meditations on Freedom and the Spirit (New York: Seabury Press). ———. 1977b. The Spirit in the Church (London: Burns and Oates). ———. 1977c. Theological Investigations Vol. 8: Further Theology of the Spiritual Life 2, trans. David Bourke (New York: Seabury Press) “Unity—Love—Mystery,” pp. 229–247. ———. 1977d. Theological Investigations Vol. 10: Writings of 1965–1967, 2, trans. David Bourke (New York: Seabury press). “Practical Theology and Social Work in the Church,” pp. 349–370. “On the Theology of Hope,” 242–259. “Theological Problems Entailed in the Idea of a New Earth,” pp. 260–272. “Theological Problems on the Problem of Secularization,” pp. 318–348. ———. 1977e. Theological Investigations Vol. 12: Confrontations 2, trans. David Bourke (New York: Seabury Press). “Anonymous Christianity and the Missionary Task of the Church,” pp. 161–178. “The Function of the Church as a Critic of Society,” pp. 229–249.



“The Question of the Future,” pp. 181–201. ———. 1978. Foundations of Christian Faith: An Introduction to the Idea of Christianity, trans. William V. Dych (New York: Seabury Press). ———. 1979a. Ignatius of Loyola, with a historical introduction by Paul Imhof, trans. Rosaleen Ockenden (London: Collins). ———. 1979b. Theological Investigations Vol. 16: Experience of the Spirit: Source of Theology, trans. D. Morland O.S.B. (New York: Seabury Press). “Experience of the Spirit and Existential Commitment,” pp. 24–34. “Anonymous and Explicit Faith,” pp. 52–59. “Faith between Rationality and Emotion,” pp. 60–78. “The Hiddenness of God,” pp. 227–243. “Modern Piety and the Experience of Retreats,” pp. 135–155. “Religious Enthusiasm and the Experience of Grace”, pp. 35–51. ———. 1980. The Courage to Pray, trans. Sarah O’Brien Twohig (London: Search Press). ———. 1981c. Theological Investigations Vol. 17: Jesus, Man and the Church, trans. Margaret Kohl (New York: Crossroad). “The Body in the Order of Salvation,” pp. 71–89. “Christmas in the Light of the Ignatian Exercises,” pp. 3–7 “Jesus Christ and the Non-Christian Religions,” pp. 39–50. “Mystical Experience and Mystical Theology,” pp. 90–99. “Transformation in the Church and Secular Society,” pp. 167–180. ———. 1983a. The Love of Jesus and the Love of Neighbor, trans. R. Barr (New York: Crossroad). ———. 1983b. Theological Investigations Vol. 18: God and Revelation, trans. Edward Quinn (New York: Crossroad). “Experience of the Holy Spirit,” pp. 189–210. “Experience of Transcendence from the Standpoint of Catholic Dogmatics,” pp. 173–188. “Following the Crucified,” pp. 157–170. “The Human Question of Meaning in Face of the Absolute Mystery of God,” pp. 89–104. “On the Importance of the Non-Christian Religions for Salvation,” pp. 288–295. ———. 1985. The Practice of Faith: A Handbook of Contemporary Spirituality (London: SCM Press). ———. 1986. Karl Rahner in Dialogue: Conversations and Interviews 1965–1982, H.D. Egan (New York: Crossroad). ———. 1990. Faith in a Wintry Season: Conversations and Interviews with Karl Rahner in the Last Years of his Life, trans. and ed. Harvey Egan (New York: Crossroad). ———. 1994a. Hearer of the Word, trans. Joseph Donceel (New York: Continuum).



———. 1994b. Spirit in the World, trans. W. Dych (New York: Continuum). Rahner, Karl and Herbert Vorgrimler. 1965. Kleines Theologisches Wörterbuch (Freiburg in Breisgau: Verlag Herder, 1961), trans. Theological Dictionary, ed. Cornelius Ernst, trans. Richard Strachan (New York: Herder and Herder).


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Agape, 104, 134, 142, 144–146 agency, 116, 118, 129, 131–134, 139–142, 146, 157, 160, 165, 167, 197, 204, 205, 213, 214 Ahimsa, 48–50, 149, 151, 154, 156, 160–163, 178, 183, 192–194, 206, 215 Alphonsa, Sr., 67 anonymous Christian, 58, 70, 71, 87, 91–97, 172, 211, 218, 222–223 anonymous Christianity, 70, 87, 89–97, 127, 166, 194, 212, 218, 223 Appiah, Anthony, 198–206, 219, 225 Aquinas, Thomas, 27, 75, 126, 215, 223 Asad, Talal, 3–8, 11, 22, 36, 64–68, 97, 201, 225 Ashley, James M., 208, 226, 234 Benedict XVI, Pope, 50, 55, 56, 94, 104, 215, 226, 240 boundary, 47, 48, 53–98, 154, 174, 197, 204–205, 210 boundary, Impermeable, 87, 101 boundary, Porous, 27, 45, 65, 79, 80, 86–97, 176–177, 182, 194, 196, 203, 205 Caritas, 144–145, 216, 226 catachrestic, 57, 66, 106, 109–110 charity, 91, 127, 129, 143–145, 213 Christian Europe, 130 Clarke, Sathianathan, 80, 237 cognitive Indifference, 159–163, 167, 192 communal Amity, 80, 98, 149, 176, 206 conversion, 7, 22, 46, 51–59, 61, 68, 69, 73–105, 146, 168, 204, 205, 210–212, 222, 232, 237, 239 cosmopolitanism, 198–200, 206, 225

critical traditionalism, 150, 151, 153, 156–157, 161, 164, 178 Davaney, Sheila G., 5, 9, 28, 232 decolonization, 38, 41–45, 47, 119, 150, 155, 170 deconstruction, 45, 118, 131, 132, 213 Deus Caritas Est, 145, 226 Egan, Harvey, 23, 167, 172, 208, 217, 224, 229, 237 ekstasis, 92, 97, 147, 156, 205, 215 Endean, Philip, 168, 215–218, 229 epistemological Poverty, 58, 203 eros, 104, 105, 134, 142–146, 215 ethics, Embodied, 25, 47, 123, 142 ethics, Feminist, 7, 13, 106, 109, 121 ethics, Heterosexist, 144, 205, 239 ethics, Incarnational, 129, 134, 186 ethics, Masculinist, 104, 133, 134, 205 ethics, Postcolonial, 101, 109, 103, 146 ethics, Sexual Difference, 109, 131, 134 existential Ethics, 13, 50, 102, 107, 120–122, 139, 146, 156, 221, 229, 239 existentiell Christology, 91–92, 97, 170, 172, 192 failure, 30, 41, 43, 46, 83, 84, 86–87, 92, 120, 151, 164, 172, 183, 184, 205, 210 fecund caress, 115, 134, 142 feminism, 40, 101, 104, 109–119, 205, 213–214, 232, 234, 236 Fiorenza, Francis S., 16, 17, 30–34, 207, 209, 230 fundamental engagement, 123, 126 fundamental Option, 48, 106–107, 121–127, 135–141, 146, 165, 169, 170, 226 fundamentalism, 10, 207


plurality, 20, 53, 76, 128, 147, 157, 168, 176, 180, 201–209 political Theology, 12, 17, 29, 31–37, 185, 209, 230–234 politics of Knowledge, 157, 203 poly/theism, 152, 206 practical Wisdom, 99, 178 prayer, 23, 93, 128, 138, 172–174, 192, 210, 217, 222, 229 Ratzinger, Cardinal J., 50, 56, 94–99, 210–212, 237 relativism, 55, 56, 96, 116, 199 revanchism, 10, 237 Sachs, John R., 17, 237 satyagraha, 182–183, 230 Schreiter, Robert, 5–11, 35, 45, 47, 52, 53, 58, 196–198, 203, 206–211, 237 scientism, 150, 157–159, 175, 197 Sen, Amartya, 195–206, 237 solidarity, 29–33, 40, 41, 55, 112–113, 141 spirituality, 5, 10, 23–25, 46–50, 76, 92–99, 106, 138, 140, 150–187, 204–224, 229–240 spirituality, conversion, 211–212 spirituality, Ignatian, 215–218, 229 spirituality, Incarnational, 173–174 statism, 158–159, 192 strategic Essentialism, 41, 105–115, 120, 203 subaltern Collective, 119, 120, 213 Sugirtharajah, R. S., 9, 12, 35–42, 50, 85, 238 supernatural Existential, 19, 46, 70–78, 86, 97, 136, 165–170, 226 Tanner, Kathryn, 5–9, 210, 219, 239 theology of Power, 187–188, 221 theory of oppression, 156, 160–161, 168 transformation of self, 152, 173, 191, 194 uterine social organization, 114 Veritatis Spelendor, 136

Gandhi, Leela, 38, 63, 102, 104, 120, 209, 210, 215, 216, 230 Gilroy, Paul, 33, 59, 64, 231 globalization, 10, 12, 19, 44, 52, 58, 62–63, 71, 88, 94, 117, 153, 194–195, 207, 211, 239 grace, 11, 13, 19, 20–26, 70–78, 86–97, 124–128, 137, 165–168, 170–173, 186–194, 207, 213, 217, 221–236 Haight, Roger, 70, 86, 217, 231–232 Hindu India, 130 Hindutva, 180–181 Ignatian Exercises, 24, 189, 217, 224, 237 Ignatian Spirituality, 23, 215–218, 229, 233 Ignatius of Loyola, 23, 126–127, 155, 166, 210–211, 217–224, 228 imperfect theory of transcendence, 169, 170 Indiferençia, 49, 126–127, 151, 165–169, 172–174, 184–187, 191–194, 215, 217 intercultural theology, 7, 8, 70–78, 198 Irigaray, Luce, 105, 115–121, 130–134, 213–214 iteration, 60, 79, 83–88 Kristeva, Julia, 40, 105, 112–116 Metz, J. B., 12, 28–37, 45, 185, 208, 209, 218, 226, 230–234 mystagogy, 166, 186, 217, 226 mysticism of the everyday, 23, 24, 164, 167, 169, 173, 184 nation, 2, 3, 54, 79, 116, 157–161, 175–177, 200, 202, 206, 225–228, 238 nationalism, 38, 53, 55, 65, 68, 82, 88, 98, 102, 104, 113, 119, 153, 157–160, 162, 175–181, 192, 194–195, 198, 213, 225, 227, 232 neo-Gandhian, 46, 149, 206 nonviolence, 1–11, 38–39, 98, 149, 151, 161, 163, 175, 178, 183, 184, 194–197, 206 pluralism, 26, 29, 52, 68, 78, 86, 87–91, 97, 121, 127, 201–202, 222, 228

Zagano, Phyllis, 104, 143–145, 240

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