By Sharon A Bong, Kristine Meneses and Jeane Cana Peracullo

 

At the close of the first day of the Sixth Biennial Conference of the Ecclesia of Women in Asia (EWA), three participants whose papers were selected for the Skype presentation, waited anxiously for the highlighted event to begin. The unusual scheduling served to accommodate eight audiences, seven of which were remote, across four continents (e.g. Africa, Asia, UK and US) and respective time zones.

Sharon A Bong’s paper on, ‘The power of transformation and transforming power’, foregrounds the narrative of Jin, a Chinese, Buddhist-New Age Spiritualist Malaysian female-to-male (FTM) transgender person. He embodies the power to transform in becoming a man. He also potentially transforms power in de-colonizing or queering theology that is founded on hegemonic discourses in recognizing only the sacredness of heteronormative bodies and sexualities. In doing so, Jin, as a non-heteronormative person, endows us with transformative power to liberate theology, recognise the other, our trans-selves and reclaim that other as ‘holy’.

Kristine Meneses’ paper on ‘Deafness and Deafhood in Mark 7.31-37: “Seeing/Signing World” [1]  of Filipino d/Deaf and their Narratives of Dismemberment and Empowerment in this “Hearing/Speaking World”’, aims to create awareness on how we unconsciously configure disenfranchising labels toward Deaf people. Deafness looks into their ‘deficit’, we rather turn to anew, and see that they are uniquely gifted and different – Deafhood. In our traditional interpretation of Mark 7.31-37, curing of the deaf has likewise contributed to seeing Deaf people as with defect. A post-colonial and post-structural re-reading of this narrative has shown that healing happened to the Deaf (not physical), to the crowd and to Jesus.

Jeane Cana Peracullo’s ‘Doing Indecent Theology:  Ecclesia of Women in Asia on Power and Resistance’ privileges the theologising and praxis of EWA, who in ‘seizing’ theology derived from Asian women’s experiences, subverts theology (thus, indecent) in both loud (forcefully through conferences and publications) and quiet ways (style, words, methods adhere to dominant discourse). Subversion is manifested in claiming the right to be taken seriously when it comes to theologizing; re-claiming the erotic in Asian female bodies; and by proposing a different trajectory that takes into account Eros’ playful, transformative dimension which is missing in many works purportedly for women even by women.

On the experience of this event, Meneses says that, ‘The videoconferencing was a new experience, however, more time could have allotted for interaction, both to those virtually present, and with the live audience which could have been enriching’. And Peracullo adds that, ‘The video-conference was a very significant event for me because it showed how fellow theologians and students of theology in universities in North America, the UK and South Africa bestowed Asian feminist theologians with importance. It also showed how global theologizing has become exciting because through the internet, we can become exposed to myriad voices of world theologians’.

[1] Coined by Meneses  to emphasize the d/Deaf world expressed in seeing and signing, but overpowered because the hearing/speaking world consequently alienates them.