This book breaks new ground in the field of public theology by constructing a public theology which is built on interwoven cultural and Christian values. Writing from the Oceanian context (Samoa), Ah Siu-Maliko unpacks the complementary Samoan and Christian core values of service, respect, dialogue, love, and justice as the foundation for a values-centered response to the social realities confronting Oceania. Drawing on the indigenous research paradigm known as talanoa, the author grounds the public theology that emerges in extensive interviews with 75 Samoans from all walks of life—the “public” who are the subjects of public theology. The resulting framework is then applied to a specific social problem—the crisis of violence against women in Samoa. This pioneering contribution to public theology discourse opens up possibilities for similar contextual approaches to public theology not only across Oceania but around the world.
Mercy Ah Siu-Maliko is lecturer in theology at Piula Theological College in Samoa and a research affiliate at the Centre for Theology and Public Issues of the University of Otago in New Zealand.
List of Figures
List of Tables
Prologue: Framing the Study
Chapter 1:Public Theology
Chapter 2The Samoan Context
Chapter 3Interwoven Strands of Fa’asamoa
Chapter 4Listening to ‘the Public’: A Talanoa Approach to Field Research
Chapter 5Talanoa about Aga Tausili (Values)
Chapter 6Talanoa about Public Theology
Chapter 7The Contours of a Samoan Values-Centered Public Theology
Chapter 8Case Study for a Samoan Public Theology: Domestic Violence
About the Author
Mercy Ah Siu-Maliko is a theological pioneer on several fronts. This important work is the first major publication by a Pacific Islander in the field of public theology, at a time when Christians urgently need to take a public stand on the many interconnected social problems facing the Oceanian region and, indeed, the rest of the world. Further, this book makes a significant contribution to contextual theology, in that Ah Siu-Maliko constructs her public theology by interweaving the ‘core values’ of Samoan culture with corresponding ethical values in the Christian faith. Finally, this is a courageous development in non-Western women’s theology, as Ah Siu-Maliko applies her values-centered public theology to a pressing social problem in her own Samoan culture, in the other island nations of Oceania, and beyond – namely, the scourge of violence against women. She is to be highly commended for offering this challenging and creative theological gift to the people of Oceania and the world.
This is a very important book, not only because it is written by a Samoan woman theologian, in itself a ground-breaking achievement, but also because it addresses a matter of urgent concern, the need for the Church to take the Gospel into the public square, to speak up in support of women who are victims of violence, and to actively engage in the efforts needed to bring such violence to an end. Mercy Ah-Siu Maliko’s call to the church is offered with humility, wisdom, and compassion, and with a sure sense that the struggle against violence and injustice is a fundamental Christian obligation.
Public theology can play a positive role in changing societies when it is contextual, Scriptural and committed to action. This vivid and engaging book, by a scholar and practitioner immersed in the Bible and her culture, adds significantly to our appreciation of public theology by showing its relevance in the context of Samoa. This work shows Mercy Ah Siu-Maliko to be a pioneer in her field.