2011 Leaders in the Academy Conference. After all, in the pursuit for excellence in scholarship in our fields of theological education, we are on a quest. This quest encompasses, as Dr. Emilie M. Townes proclaimed in celebration of the great legacy of Dr. Sharon Watson Fluker, great oeuvres along the way.">
By: Tamara E. Lewis
June 07, 2011
“Are you traveling to colonize or are you traveling to be a co-learner?”
This was the query posed by Dr. Margaret Aymer to FTE fellows at the closing panel discussion at the 2011 Leaders in the Academy Conference. After all, in the pursuit for excellence in scholarship in our fields of theological education, we are on a quest. This quest encompasses, as Dr. Emilie M. Townes proclaimed in celebration of the great legacy of Dr. Sharon Watson Fluker, great oeuvres along the way. From Dr. Watson Fluker’s example, it is apparent that worlds of expansion which reach widely and deeply with support and nurturing into the lives and minds of developing scholars are possible when primacy is given to a spirit of intellectual openness and inclusion.
Thus, transcending those neat, dichotomous spaces—the either/or binaries so deeply constructed within colonized consciousness, serves as a paradigmatic way of conceiving our vocations. Our task as emerging scholars is to foster a continuous awareness and reception of what Dr. Tracey Hucks describes as “diverse epistemologies.” This requires balancing acts, theoretical frameworks of appreciating ambiguities and dynamism. Hence Dr. Reginaldo Braga labels himself a faculty learner in dialogical community. What an amazing example of a pedagogical approach to what can be understood as conceptualized decolonization! Instead of perpetuating traditionally frozen categorical domains of epistemological knowledge in our teaching and scholarship, we have the opportunity to promote methodologies that actively resist the “anthropological poverty” which, as defined by Dr. Diane Diakite´, has unremittingly despoiled the African self, being, and identity through historical institutions of oppression.
So which roads will we FTE fellows take? How shall we build along our journeys? Indeed, just as the voice of John cried out the word of the Lord from the wilderness, so too often Divine revelation emerges from unexpected places. Will we be listening? And, during those times when the sounds get muted, and there is silence, and then we find ourselves way low in the trenches, down there, by ourselves, and can’t “hear nobody pray,” will we go searching for those voices? those narratives? those multiple sources of understanding in ways that refuse to subtract, limit, or impose? Will we be mindful, as reflected in the 2011 Conference theme, of global visions while in our local contexts?
And so, for me, my first FTE conference, which was conducted under the amazing leadership of Matthew Wesley Williams, was simply enlightening. Throughout the whole experience, sacred energy was palpable. Even at the closing FTE worship service, Dr. Luke A. Powery preached us into perspicacity. Through him, we were alerted to the echoes of voices crying, even now, from the wilderness. These sounds reflect the mystery of suffering and Divine presence, calling us into academic service, calling us to, as Dr. Watson Fluker refrains, “do it for the people.” And we must.