Revisiting Tolerance. Lessons drawn from Egypt’s Cosmopolitan Heritage (Essay)

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He feels a part of everything - until war whisks off his father and family, and Christmas Eve becomes the last one spent in Egypt. Victor Teboul is a regular keynote speaker at various organizations and educational institutions where he is invited to speak on diversity in a multicultural world. His latest novel "Bienvenue chez Monsieur B. During a radio interview at Radio-Canada International, Teboul said it takes ''hutspa'' to write a novel such as "Bienvenue chez Monsieur B. Victor writes a regular column on the Tolerance.

His books can be purchased at Amazon. Are you an author? Help us improve our Author Pages by updating your bibliography and submitting a new or current image and biography. Learn more at Author Central. Previous page. Kindle Edition. Next page. Unlimited One-Day Delivery and more. There's a problem loading this menu at the moment. The Other Story , , the first retrospective exhibition of British African, Caribbean and Asian modernism, was received with derision and acclaim in equal measure.

Thus, The Other Story was one of several multi-stranded initiatives by Araeen and other artists to construct a cultural and archival counter-memory. This movement included Araeen himself, who is a bridge between those artists who witnessed the turmoil of national liberation and civil war following decolonisation, and the later generation schooled in semiotics and the politics of representation. Of the twenty-four artists in the exhibition, only six were drawn from the younger generation, which included the only four women: Sonia Boyce fig. One apparent paradox in the discourse of The Other Story was the implied desire for inclusion in and approbation from a system regarded at the outset as unjust and corrupt.

I shall try to address this by placing my focus where Araeen really places his — on the practices of the immediate post-war generations rather than those of the Black Arts Movement, at the time itself largely unaware of its predecessors for the very reasons advanced by The Other Story. One fundamental argument is that African, Asian and Caribbean modernists presented an untenable challenge to a Eurocentric universalist system of values to which, nonetheless, only the white male artist could claim legitimate genealogy.

This is the umbilical connection made by Gavin Jantjes in his painting Untitled , , among the key artistic statements in The Other Story. Hence by the early twentieth century one sees emerging in the colonies the twin aspirations of national independence and modernism in visual art, both responding to prevailing socio-political realities and signifying the early optimism of modernisation. In the British context, however, the most important Black artist in London of the interwar decades was Ronald Moody — , who, although he arrived in from Jamaica to study dentistry, was so overwhelmed by the Egyptian collection in the British Museum that he turned to sculpture fig.

Hence, as Araeen points out, 15 both artists occupied and responded to a common spatio-temporality and artistic ethos belonging to the history of British modernism. However, The Other Story effectively begins from the first post-war decades, with the generation of African, Asian and Caribbean peoples recruited to aid in the reconstruction of Britain.

In , a year after the Empire Windrush docked in Tilbury, what had originally been the Commonwealth of Nations under the colonial British Crown was reconfigured as the Commonwealth of Independent Nations. Amongst its mandates was educational, cultural and economic exchange, and the Commonwealth Institute became an important exhibition venue. Many of the participants of The Other Story studied in prestigious British art schools and therefore, contrary to the dismissive claims made by later critics, were visually and intellectually literate in prevailing debates on modernism and academicism.

But as discrimination and hostility against immigrants within British society increased, so aspirations of being fully recognised by the art establishment diminished.


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Some artists returned home; others, like many white artists, relocated to New York as the new centre of artistic energy; whilst others like Egonu remained quietly working in Britain. Williams, Moody, Clifton Campbell who eventually returned to Jamaica and Althea McNish found intellectual and politically focused support in the Caribbean Artists Movement CAM , —72 , although they were disappointed by its lack of appreciation for visual arts. At the same time, as Britain increasingly identified itself politically with the USA , one cannot discount the impact on British art of the aggressive promotion of American art and consumerism during the Cold War.

For instance, Chandra aligned his work to van Gogh and Soutine , and so was insulted to be asked if he could paint elephants and tigers. That such attitudes still prevailed in the late s and early s is confirmed by comments made by the second generation Black and Asian artists about their art school experiences, 26 and the institutional double standards applied to them, whereby the appropriation of global artistic capital was solely the prerogative of white artists. Modernism was the intellectual property of the European and they had crossed a forbidden line — they were trespassers , irrespective of their professional training.

We now turn to some concluding reflections on where these issues. In , E. In this book, Jones provides one of the most moving and profound appeals for indigenizing the gospel ever written. In the Indian context, Jones argued, Jesus was to be understood in Indian terms, not terms imported and imposed from afar.

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The temptation today, of course, is to congratulate ourselves for believing we have learned this lesson. Though the sad truth is that we continue to confuse the true living gospel with the gospels of the world, there is another issue at stake: loosing sight how these indigenous Christianities fit together. We must affirm his basic insight that Jesus is found on many indigenous roads and we must take this insight further, to the place these many roads lead: to Jesus on the global road.

This question also alerts us to how we may have misunderstood or misrepresented this story and confused both ourselves and the world as to our true mission, our true calling. Very well. Story-telling is fine and good, but how will it inform the hard, practical questions confronting missionaries and pastors and the church?

How will it help the Brazilian pastor who is asked by a congregant if he should take part in an anti-globalization rally? Even if we desired to do so, we simply have no global formula to offer our not-so-hypothetical brothers and sisters. What we can do is suggest humbly where they and we can begin the process of corporate discernment necessary to answer these practical questions of daily ministry. The first step is the hard work of understanding , a work barely begun here. It is to this second step we now turn by way of conclusion. Again recall the gospel mediation outlined at the start of the paper: From the beginning of Genesis , we are told that God created the heavens and the earth and humankind to be its stewards.

All this was created originally good. To humans God gave the kingly mandate to go into all the earth and to fill it and to have dominion over it a command echoed in Matthew and John in a fresh way. This calling quickly became distorted, as did all of creation, by our rebellion and fall. In the early chapters of Scripture the episodes of our rebellion are repeated over and over again and each time we see the further alienation of humans from God, from creation, from each other and from themselves.

The archetypal symbol of this endless rebellion is found in the Tower of Babel. Here is the good news. Through Christ humanity and creation are both reconciled and will one day be fully restored. So we see hints of the coming restoration in Pentecost, in the first struggles between Jews and Gentiles at Antioch and in the visions of John where all nations and tongues are gathered to give praise to the creator and redeemer God.

We are sent his Holy Spirit to guide our efforts and to encourage our calling to be for the world what Jesus was for Israel —Kingdom announcers and cross-bearers.

Although we have no abiding city, we are told not only to go into all the world, but also to serve the city we are in. Taken together, these brief allusions to the full gospel story remind us of our calling. We are, after all, to be a kingdom of priests, a royal priesthood for the whole earth. It is, then, a response of genuine incarnational Christianity to the global situation in which all of us increasingly find ourselves. As we have seen, globalization is an exceedingly complex and highly contested reality which often eludes our attempts to understand it.

We have also seen that it is full of unavoidable tensions: rich and poor, West and non-West, unity and diversity, individual and community, freedom and authority, the universal and the particular, domination and resistance, exile and homecoming and, in eschatological terms the beginning of the End of times and the end of the End of times. These are the tensions and paradoxes we all inhabit just by being human, no matter who we are or where we live.

Globalization intensifies these tensions that plague our human condition, adding to them the additional strain of the global with the local. Caught as we are in the middle of these tensions, we are tempted to take sides, as the powers of the world push us to one side or the other and we are confronted with an imperative to be for or against globalization. In this paper, we suggest that the spirit of a Christian response to globalization is to decline this imperative, choosing instead the way of reconciliation, the way that calls us to live at the heart of the tensions.

No doubt this is a way that must begin with repentance, with groaning in the Spirit and lament, but also with a blessed hope. We begin where we are, in our particular moment in time and our peculiar location in space, but we also begin where we are with respect to our own societies our class, ethnicity, gender, etc. Christians are called to embody the true Israel, the true Humanity found only in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. In this new Humanity there is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor freeman, male nor female, only the full, complete, Body of Christ in its glorious diversity, one in the Spirit of God.

This is the Christ-centred imperative behind a biblically-grounded cosmopolitanism. We have already raised three missiological questions that we believe will help Christians fulfil their mission to live as reconcilers amidst the tensions of the globalizing world around them. Let us raise two more.

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In fact, what is at issue may not actually be a question of mission per se, but a question of commission. This is to say, that just as there are many members in the Body of Christ, so there are many gifts and talents which are meant to serve the Body. Raising this question makes us reflect how we should be forming and encouraging one another with regard to our unique gifts and talents, roles and offices. It also raises important questions about collaboration and partnership.

It happens that most of the non-Western missionary movement today consists of lay people who are on the move — of women and children, labourers, refugees, students and diasporic communities.

As many are right to remind us, the book of Acts continues to be lived out in nearly every city on the planet. One of the most desperately needed aspects of this call to serve the city is the commissioning of Christian professionals by definition, elites who will work out the implications of the whole gospel story in realms of economics, politics, science and engineering, the arts, medicine, and the like.

It is a fact of our world-historical moment that humanity increasingly relies on such powers in the ordering of its affairs. It is also a fact that these powers have become the reigning idols of the age. Again, this will mean being able to live in the tensions of the world, where the world is in exile. Its job is to form people, in the words of N. Wright, into the kind of Christians capable of holding in one hand the love of God and in the other the pain of the world.

The shape of reconciliation is always cross-shaped — whether we are professional missionaries or businessmen, engineers or pastors, wage-labourers or CEOs. Subsidiarity is perhaps less familiar to us than vocation, but just as important. To put it simply, subsidiarity refers to the levels at which decisions are made.

At issue is the question of authority: who gets to decide what counts as orthodox Christianity? We are seeing this in terms of the explosion of non-Western Christianity and the implications that explosion has for who gets to tell the authorized story of Christianity.

In a more direct way, subsidiarity also refers to responsibility. None of us is responsible for the entire world, but we are responsible for being faithful to our calling wherever God has put us. In this sense, mission begins wherever God has placed you and wherever vocation takes you. We are to serve the city we are in. Indeed, globalization challenges the long-standing captivity of the idea that missions is something that happens somewhere else in the world, an idea still constrained by Western notions of geography especially geography divided artificially by the modern nation-state system.

This fire refers to the ever-present tension between unity and diversity. There is one Church and thus, one authentic humanity and yet the church is incredibly diverse and thus, so is humanity.


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Only in Christ can this paradox be reconciled. In the end, our unity-diversity will be the witness the world longs for, just as it will be our disunity that will be cause for the light of the gospel to be hid as it were under a bushel. Let us return to the Hindu fable with which we began and consider again the question we set out to address: what is the impact of globalization on the gospel?

The blind men and the elephant analogy captures the diversity of experience and perception that describes the contemporary church. We each come from particular places in the world, from different cultures, languages, histories and so on. None of us, therefore, has the complete picture of globalization. With important qualifications, what is true of globalization can also be said of the gospel. Indeed, this is nothing short of the promise of both Pentecost and Revelation and it is being made possible by contemporary globalization.

This is the sense in which we need to rethink missions — globalization not only provides the opportunity to do so, it demands it. If we are correct, we find ourselves following Jesus, each at different places on what amounts to a single, global road. Along with us on the road is the rest of humanity, desperately trying to determine where in the world the road is leading them. We are to bear the good news that the global road leads to that final vision in Revelation where the kings of the earth bring their glory to the new Jerusalem and there, together, every tongue and nation will unite before the throne of God in worship and adoration.

This is among the best analytical definition of globalization available as well as the most abstract. To put it as simply as possible, globalization according to this definition is a process or set of processes which can be seen in a transformation of how humans relate to one another in space and time.

Alexandria – and its “cosmopolitanism” – encore et toujours

As abstract as it first sounds, this way of looking at globalization offers a number of conceptual strengths. It allows us to measure global processes in quite specific ways within discrete sectors of modern life—whether in terms of the single strands of politics, economics, culture, technology, and the like.

Consider the technological sector. Another strength of this analytical definition is that it highlights the carriers of globalization i. Again, taking the Internet as our example, we are able to think about the various media that make it possible—satellites, electricity, multinational computer corporations, international trade agreements, as well as UN, World Bank, and private foundation initiatives designed to spread Internet technology to the most isolated areas of the world, and so on.

Likewise, it shows the way Internet technology has increasingly become not only a normal way of communicating around the world for many people, but how it is arguably the primary way we communicate globally i. Also among the strengths this socio-analytical definition offers is that it allows us to consider the patterns of inequality i. To continue with the case of the Internet, it helps us confront among other things the issue of access—the ability of different groups of people to access the Internet.

For all its conceptual strengths this socio-analytical definition does have weaknesses. Perhaps most problematic of all, however, this definition says nothing about the theological dimensions of globalization. A fundamental question for global mission is not only a geographical matter, encompassing the whole world, but also a matter of content.

The issue is a holistic gospel for a holistic mission. Globalization is not limited to the political or economic spheres of influences. There are multiple disciplines that are globalized or globalizing that exert influence on the worldview of cultures and societies around the world. Religion, although not always included as a major player in globalization discussions, is in fact one area of global society that has great influence on the worldview of any given culture. A large challenge for evangelical Christianity in the future is how to integrate the influence of the Gospel with the other influence carriers in the globalization process.

If this can be achieved then the Gospel will have a greater impact on society than it has in recent history. This would be a holistic mission. I see two key parts to this process. The first deals with how the evangelical church will encourage and empower the church of the four-fifths world to be an equal player in globalized missions. The second issue is how the evangelical church can develop a holistic approach to mission that leads to integration of the Gospel in all aspects of the life and work of a society and of the world.

The growth of missions by churches outside of the traditional Western sending nations is well documented. Since Western agencies have become more aware of what has been taking place and have sought to respond to it. For most groups this has meant internationalization of their agency. For some groups this has been a good move, but not all have followed this pattern. There are indigenous missions that have emerged within their own cultural setting and have developed unique approaches.

As the four-fifths world church continues to mature and grow in this area it is likely that this trend will continue. Globalization does not need to mean that everything is the same and in fact globalization can often be a current whose influence flows in both directions. As four-fifths world churches become involved in global missions they must be freed up to develop structures and approaches that build upon their strengths and their own cultural uniqueness. As the four-fifths world church actively involves itself in global mission activity they can begin by looking for a model to follow on how to do missions.

For most this means that they will look at the one pattern of missions that they have seen from the West, the professional missionary. If the assumption is too quickly made that if they are to be involved in missions this is the way they must do it, they limit themselves from the start. The current dominant model of missions as done by the Western churches is based upon a model that developed in the colonial era and is dependent on a high level of affluence within the sending church.

We no longer live in a colonial era and very few, if any, of four-fifths world churches possess a significant level of affluence.

The Dispersion of Egyptian Jewry

If these churches as well as the Western churches are to overcome these limitations multiple models of missions must be developed and in some cases redeveloped. The last two thousand years of church history is full of various models of doing missions. The following, while not intended to be exhaustive, is a list of historical models that have been used to spread the Kingdom. There are undoubtedly more that could be listed and some that have yet to be discovered.

In a globalizing world each church in its cultural setting should be encouraged and allowed to develop their own approaches to involvement in missions. Internationalization of missions while presenting certain short-term advantages, also has some potentially negative side effects as well.

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In too many cases internationalizing a Western agency maintains Western organizational styles and thinking. The organization may be international in personnel, but Western in organization and structures. This runs the risk of continued Western dominance and in worse case scenarios neo-colonial or neopaternalistic.

It can unintentionally say that we want one to be involved in missions and we have figured out how it can best be done so come work within our structures. A recent study points out not only the differences, but how internationalized Western agencies can unwittingly create a Western mindset for non-Western missionaries in their organization.

When asked about the best way to evaluate the effectiveness of Japanese missionaries, an interesting trend developed. With two exceptions, the Japanese missionaries who served under non-Japanese, international sending agencies responded with results or a product, such as having established a church. The missionaries who were sent from Japanese sending agencies tended to speak of relationships, who while the missionary had developed a relationship with the people.

This is most likely a result of the kinds of expectations the missionaries had been given by their respective sending agencies. Several years ago two mission leaders were together and discussed who helped to shape the worldview of any culture or society. There may in fact be more, but these are at least the seven main ones. Rather than a linear approach, I like to see each of these areas as a piece of a circle that fits together and thus a degree approach to missions.

The idea is that the combined thinking of these groups in a society will influence how that society looks at the world. If this is how we approach missions we will have far less influence in a society because we only have an impact on one aspect of the mechanism that influences the thinking in that society. Worse we may encourage syncretism among the new believers. A new believer is taught well about church and Christianity, but very little about how faith is to be lived out in the world.

In a globalized world that is linked in so many different ways, Christian missions must find a way to integrate its activity in all seven areas listed above. That will mean both professional Christians and Christian professionals will need to strategically work together to model what it means to be a Christian in all areas of life. I would say that there is a majority of Christians in the world who would never see themselves as professional Christians, as traditional missionaries.

They should not be limited to that route to involvement in global missions. Every aspect of globalization offers an opportunity for Christians to share and demonstrate the Gospel. There are non-Western businessmen who are starting factories as an intentional and effective means of doing missions. There are artists and educators who do not see themselves as missionaries, but rather as Christians who are living out their faith and influencing the thinking of their discipline and thus a society. I met with the pastor of a large urban church in central Africa and asked him about how their church might be involved in cross-cultural missions.

He said that a small number of his members travel globally in business or as lawyers. More still travel on the continent and still others travel to near neighbour countries. Christian business people and educators, artist and government officials are already doing this in growing numbers. It will be a challenge for traditional missions to adapt to the new possibilities brought on by the realities of globalization and to seek to jointly develop integrative strategies with Christian professionals that will bring the impact of the Gospel to all aspects of a society.

Globalization is affecting all aspects of societies today. Missions in this reality must seek to intentionally model the Gospel in all areas, not just the religious. The idea of the Gospel going from everywhere to everywhere should not be just a geographical issue, but one that involves all aspects of culture and society, that is a holistic gospel for a holistic mission. Barber, Benjamin R. Jihad Vs. Berger, Peter L. Huntington, eds. Oxford: Oxford University Press, , pages. Bhagwati, Jagdish. In Defense of Globalisation. Oxford: Oxford University Press, , pp.

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