Unnoticed and unloved: The indigenous storyteller and public theology in a postcolonial age
Edward P. Wimberly
Verbum et Ecclesia
The purpose of this paper was to present a commentary on my longstanding practice, as an African-American pastoral theologian, of utilising the ethnographic qualitative research approach centring on Black masculinity and violence. My goal was to comment on what I experienced, learned, practiced and published about violence as an African-American man who happens to be a pastor, pastoral counsellor, licensed marriage and family therapist, and teacher of pastoral care and counselling for over 40
... ars. My method of data collection for my research and writing has been ethnographic listening to the stories of African-Americans within families and small groups, and in churches, workshops and classrooms. There is a major limitation to this approach because ethnographic research is socially and culturally located and confined to the United States of America and to the African community. Yet, my published reflections as a pastoral theologian on violence over the years were presented to stimulate conversation and discussions in the cross-cultural contexts of students, faculty and interested publics within seminaries universities and churches, particularly in South Africa, Zimbabwe and Ethiopia where I have lectured and taught.Violence in this paper was understood as being adversarial, behavioural, physical, verbal and nonverbal, exploitive and combative reactions to very powerful economic and socio-cultural values which exist globally. These values recruit and reduce all human beings from all social strata into commodity-orientated and commercialised economic definitions of human worth. Human identity and dignity are defined exclusively by the possession of wealth, social status, privileged position, power and prestige. Those who lack such so-called honourable designations and characteristics are deemed worthless, invisible and unlovable. To be poor in this orientation means to be completely worthless and valueless. Therefore, the paper proposed an indigenous narrative storytelling model which could be used to orientate people publicly to the appropriate source of human worth and dignity.