I would like to begin by giving my take on the theme of our conference, Inculturation and Indigenization: Becoming Who We Are. And I do this with reference to Idris Hamid’s Out of the Depths where the contributors to that text in the 70’s were emphatic about two things. The first was our need to decolonize our theology and churches by looking to the religious intuitions of our peoples, and our indigenous religious expressions in particular. The second was the need to recognize that we must do this with the epistemological perspective that God was already present in the region prior to Christian and colonial encounters. What the contributors meant by indigenous is up for interpretation and, apart from a “buy local” perspective, I don’t think they really put much thought into it apart from mainly Afro, and to a lesser extent Indo, Caribbean vantage points. I’m not sure they considered Tainos, Garifunas, Arawak, Carib, Kalinagos religious expressions in these perspectives. If they did, it would certainly make their second claim much more exciting and problematic for them as Christians, since it would seem to point to the regionally prior indigenous religious expressions as religions that we need to explore and relate to (which were left out of the very forward looking Fashion Me A People) at some level to fully understand God in our region. Apart from the Encyclopedia of Caribbean Religions there hasn’t been much theological work relating to these indigenous expressions. But this is also linked to our understandings of who is indigenous to the region, which depends on one’s social, political, racial and religious identities that have been shaped by the colonial myth of the extinction of the native so that “new” natives can inhabit the land.
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