Since the early days of liberation theology, Northern Hemisphere theological education has used the phrase solidarity with the oppressed to denote the religiously and morally appropriate response to situations of violence and oppression. Yet efforts to inculcate solidarity of heart and mind often devolve into a kind of theological tourism wherein professors and students visit oppressed communities without truly participating as subjects in the subjectivity of the marginalized.
'Beyond Theological Tourism' shows how one group of theological teacher-mentors and students attempt to overcome the limits of visits as tourists of the revolution to exotic locations. Starting from the challenge of Robert Evans of the Plowshares Institute, a group of Chicago-based Christians struggled with new modes of education for prospective ministers.
The editors and contributors--Claude Marie Barbour, Clinton E. Stockwell, Anthony J. Gittins, C.S.Sp., Eleanor Doidge, Yoshiro Ishida, Heidi Hadsell, Dow Edgerton, Kathleen Billman, Peggy DesJarlait, and Depaul Genska, O.F.M.--have put together a book of active collaboration, insightful debate, and self-critical analysis. Theological tourism, they find, is counterproductive and may give the wrong lessons. An immersion that respects the subjectivity and cultural integrity of the persons among whom middle-class trainees work and live can be marvelous experiences for both host communities and their visitors . . . but successful immersion is dauntingly difficult to do.