Open for Liberation
By: Tim Gee - Christian Alternative, $11.95
Description: Jesus was a revolutionary. He led an anti-colonial movement of the dispossessed which affirmed womenís leadership, racial equality and sexual diversity.
Yet within three centuries, Christianity began being used at the service of the very same forms of discrimination Jesus had spent his life opposing.
Open for Liberation argues that the task of liberating humanity from oppression must involve liberating Christianity from the idea that oppression is consistent with faith.
Thus, Tim Gee restores the radical spirit of Jesus.
Verdict: The life in the Spirit is bound to have one hallmark Ė that the nature of God is reproduced in the personality handed over to Him; for such a handing-over implies total immersion in and possession by the Spirit of God, to be made like Himself, and He is God.
Therein, Godís nature has one essential characteristic. He is totally self-giving. He pours Himself out in an everlasting stream of blessing on all His creation. He is the eternal will to all goodness. He finds Himself in losing Himself.
A standpoint that holds as true for me today as it did when I first heard it spoken back many decades ago as a small boy, here in Open for Liberation: An activist reads the Bible, author Tim Gee opens by stating that, to his viewpoint, Christianity in its origins was a movement of the marginalized and the oppressed and principally consisted of colonized peoples from the Middle East and Africa, suffering under military occupation.
He brings forth Jesus as a teacher, public speaker and organizer and who in modern day terms he would be described as an anti-racist. He would be a person who challenged unequal gender norms and affirm sexual diversity throughout the Kingdom.
He would take long walks in nature and his words about plants and animals would suggest a connection with - and care for - ecology. He would also teach his students to be nonviolent, in defiance of the culture of both his time and ours.
In popular culture today, people continually debate whether Jesus is best understood as a religious teacher or as an activist or reformer; although it is highly unlikely this would have made much sense in Jesusí time, of course.
Gee admits that one of the people who helped shape his perspective on this topic to hand was Scottish activist and former Iona Community peace worker Helen Steven, whose 2005 lecture on activism and prayer remains a source of inspiration to him even today.
A lover of reading South African anti-apartheid leader Desmond Tutuís work also, a man whose ideas are well summarized in his oft-repeated view that the Bible is the most radical and revolutionary book there is and were a book to be banned by those who rule unjustly then it should have been the Bible, Gee also freely admits that he first seriously engaged with his own Bible back when he was just 19 years old, on a study visit to Palestine.
Running at just 78 pages, and with some of that to be found under the final chapter: Notes and further reading, Gee freely admits that what he has written could be solely seen as just a political reading of the Bible and that given his education and background in social movements, that the assessment of his efforts as such would be fair to him.
It isnít, however, his sole motivation, as he is strains to point out throughout though. For to read the Bible through the lens of the struggle is an interesting exercise, but the point is to then act on it.
Much like supposing How could we see things the other way around, and read social change theologically today? How does the Bible read us?
In closing, if any of this has made you curious, I would humbly suggest picking up a copy of this book for yourself for it is both compelling in its reach and depth and intriguingly written therein by someone who knows exactly what he is talking about and only wishes to show you his astute workings.
About the Author - Tim Gee is a writer and campaigner. His first book, Counterpower, shortlisted for the Bread and Roses Prize for radical non-fiction, explored movements for change through history.
He has written for The Guardian, New Internationalist and the Independent, and has worked for Friends of the Earth, Christian Aid and Quaker Peace and Social Witness. He lives in London, UK.
Official Book Purchase Link