Elaine Padilla and Peter C. Phan, eds., Christianities in Migration: The Global Perspective.
This volume is the third and the last of the trilogy entitled Theology and Migration in World Christianity: Contextual Perspectives. Globality is the central term: the volume includes, indeed, the phenomenon of migration, past and present, going through several continents, regions, and countries--from Africa, through Asia, Oceania and Europe, all the way to the Americas.
Reading it is sometimes not an easy task. Many emigrants have experienced unimaginable deprivation and suffering. During their migratory pilgrimages, millions of people have encountered poverty, violence, even murder and genocide. Today the problems have only shifted in appearance: migrants experience unemployment, forced labour, sexual exploitation, terrorism, and homelessness among other deeply troubling conditions of existence.
In 2013, the UN Department for Economics and Social Affairs provided a statistical figure of approximately 236 million international migrants. Another statistic from the same year, published by the UN High Commission for Refugees, showed that there were 10.4 million refugees in the world. Today the figure is growing fast: refugees from countries such as Iraq, Pakistan, and Syria are scattered throughout European countries, a fact that raises challenges not only from political, social, and economical viewpoints, but also theological.
The authors included in the current book attempt to crystallize the principles of a "theology of migration" adequate to the current context, marked by extreme dynamism. The answer, however, is not a foregone conclusion given the topic's multidimensional--multicultural and multi-ethnic --character. A number of factors emerge from the studies included in the volume: various types of migration--forced, free, mass--that can fluctuate over time (temporary/permanent), distance (long/short), types of borders to be crossed (internal/external), type of people involved (family/clan/person), causes of migration (economic/cultural/religious), and so on. The sum of these factors determines the complexity of the phenomenon of migration, a fact that also leads to difficulties in presenting synchronicity in all 15 studies that make up the book.
The first chapter, by Peter Phan, provides the conceptual framework of historical, theological, and ethical perspectives on migration. He demonstrates that from its very roots and through the ages, migration has been a permanent feature for the church. Migration has played a pivotal role in Christianity becoming a truly global religion. It has also transformed the church with an eschatological orientation as a religious community of faith that is constantly on the march toward the final fulfilment of the reign of God. The chapters that follow are written by area specialists who cover diverse contextual aspects of migration. Jehu J. Handles writes from the angle of global Christianity; Elias K. Bongmba and Akintude E. Akinde speak from Africa; Agnes M. Brazal and Emmanuel S. de Guzman focus on Asia; Kanan Kitani within Japan; Jione Havea within Oceania. Others are Patricia Madigan writing on Australia, Michael Nausner on Europe, Ana Maria and Gabriel Bidegain Greising from Latin America, Thomas E. Reynolds in Canada, and Susanna Snyder in US. The Americas are accounted for by James Samuel Logan's, Allan Figueroa Deck, SJ's, and Moses O. Biney's studies.
The last chapter, authored by Elaine Padilla, bears the provocative title of "The End of Christianity." She intones the now well-recognized apocalyptic themes of the unending string of climate changes, diminishing resources, famine and disease, as well as nationalism and ideological fanaticism and resultant wars. She also strikes an optimistic note: the hope that today's global Christianity will model an environment in which nations and cultures can come into contact and heal themselves (p. 300). In any case, the cosmopolitanism of the geographical totality cannot be a response to problems, because it can simply become another version of totalitarianism (p. 305).
Like the previous two volumes, the current volume seeks to promote a Christian vision of the global world in such a way that immigrants also benefit from a "homelike" framework through which to guarantee their survival and experience the joy of human flourishing (p. 3).
Clearly, we are dealing with an important contribution to the extremely complex phenomenon of global migration. There are no easy tropes, no final answers to the crises related to the issue. The challenges that it poses still require much reflection. At the end of this review, some questions that are only partially addressed in the book might be raised, such as the following: How has globalization and migration affected Christianity's theological self-reflection? How do specific regions articulate and particularize Christian responses to social, political, cultural, and religious issues? In light of globalization and migration, how is the Christian evangelizing mission to be understood and conducted? Finally, what ecclesial reforms would offer a valid response to the challenges posed by globalization and migration?
Ciprian Iulian Toroczkal
Orthodox Theological Faculty, Sibiu, Romania
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|Author:||Toroczkal, Ciprian Iulian|
|Publication:||International Review of Mission|
|Date:||Nov 1, 2019|
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