Is shalom enough? Drifting peace, in the waters of Oceania

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Abstract

This talanoa re-considers the appropriateness of shalom as guiding principle for charting paths to 'just governance' and 'peace leadership' in Oceania. In the first place, the uncritical association of shalom with Israelite interests is problematic. Further, the deadlock between peace theologies, just war theories and non-violent movements, fail to account for the ecological nightmares in Oceania and the politics of climate change that is gripping Western minds. Moreover, the unconscious attempts in theologies of shalom to hide their emergence from war zones is irresponsible. If shalom is relevant in contexts of war, what might be steppingstones toward just governance and peace leadership in drifting and drowning Oceania? I invite consideration of 'comfort' (nhm) as a supplement for shalom, and this requires re-evaluating the role of Job's three comforters, as well as the pain in the voices of Nahum, against Nineveh, and of Nehemiah, among returnees from exile. As we painfully watch the waters rising on the shores of Oceania, I suggest that we need more than shalom. We need comfort also, and this requires that we rethink our approach to biblical criticism and theological praxis. The call for comfort is not an invitation to be comfortable, but to be in affective solidarity with those who find no comfort, like Job, in ashes, like Nineveh, in pro-Israelite agendas, and like migrants and exiled, even in their own homelands. This call for comfort comes within the wavelengths of liberation hermeneutics, but with commitment to islanders who are preparing to drift, and whose cultures will drown, in the rising waters of Oceania.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)28-43
Number of pages16
JournalPacific Journal of Theology
Volume45
Publication statusPublished - 2011

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