Upon visiting some friends in Guatemala City at a B&B they are running, this question rang relevant again.
Sitting on the rooftop of a city with some of the highest murder rates in the world per capita, and hearing stories of all the horrible things that have happened within eyesight of that rooftop, really puts things into perspective.
How quick theology becomes irrelevant.
My friends would read the same books as me, care about the same things as me, discuss the same topics and have a similar education. Yet when they moved there, so much of it became almost obnoxiously distracting from what theology really is.
If regular life for you means living under the possibility of you and your family not being alive – you care about different things. The present becomes something you sink your teeth into and become grateful for.
Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
What good are abstract thoughts? What good are ideas? Why does it matter what order your thoughts are arranged in your head? Is theology just existential worrying?
One of the curses that come with the kind of safety and security that money and colonialism has brought is that of thinking more than acting. So much time to sit and ponder and turn real life into things that just go on in our heads. Which, who is to say is a bad thing I guess? However, it must be understood that most of the world does not have this luxury. The powerless especially.
So theology to the powerless is not a set of ideas or things to think about. Why then, is theology for the powerful only ideas? Theology for the powerless is a gratitude and perspective facing suffering and oppression. Theology for the powerful is groups of ideas that serve to maintain their power or at the very least maintain their composure while going along with the benefits that power has to offer.
This is why I have had a hard time going to far with my theological studies, and I find myself much more inclined to listen and join those that are powerless. Their theology is different. When they theologize it comes out in poems, riots and revolutions. I’m getting tired of ideas fighting ideas about other ideas based on faith.
So I ask myself. What good is it? Is theology just an exercise of futility that we can only experience because of our privilege? I don’t think philosophy is off the hook either, but there is something a bit more ironic about theology being a way to think that really makes me skeptical of the whole enterprise.