Engagement and inner dialogue with the Cultures and Religions of Melanesia
Italian-born Ennio Mantovani SVD set out as a missionary to bring the Gospel to the Melanesian peoples in 1962. However, living as a missionary among the people of the Simbu region in the Papua New Guinea highlands he soon discovered not the darkness on the minds and cultures he was supposed to encounter and fight, but also an amazing presence of the light he meant to bring through the Gospel. He studied the cultures of the people and the relationship to the Gospel values.
This book describes his “inner dialogue” between his own tradition as a Catholic theologian and the discoveries with the people in Melanesia. Trying to understand the local culture and the contexts of different peoples, he discovered his own tradition in a new light.
The “Dema” is a central belief in many Melanesian cultures and refers to a “more-than-human” figure offering a better life to the people. Mantovani approaches the faith and values of his Melanesian dialogue partners from several sets of theological questions and tries to understand better, what it means to become a Christian in different cultural contexts.
Part I: The Land, Peoples, and Cultures of Papua New Guinea
1. THE PREHISTORIC ISLAND, INHABITANTS AND CULTURES
2. OVERVIEW OF THE CULTURES OF PAPUA NEW GUINEA
Part II: The Religions of Papua New Guinea
3. DEFINING MELANESIAN “RELIGION”
4. THEISTIC RELIGIOUS EXPERIENCE AND RELIGIONS
5. BIOCOSMIC RELIGIOUS EXPERIENCE
6. SIMILARITIES AND DISSIMILARITIES IN THE TWO SYSTEMS
7. CHARACTERISTICS OF MELANESIAN RELIGIONS
8. KEY BIOCOSMIC SYMBOLS
Part III: My Inner Dialogue with PNG Realities
9. INNER DIALOGUE YIELDS INSIGHTS
10. DIVINE REVELATION OUTSIDE THE BIBLE?
11. THE HUMAN RESPONSE TO GOD’S REVELATION
12. THE OLD TESTAMENT AND THE RELIGIONS OF THE MELANESIANS
Part IV: Dialogue with the Religion of the Planters
13. ON THE ISSUE OF SYMBOLISM
14. CHRIST AND EVOLUTION
15. KEY ISSUES FOR DIALOGUE
16. POWER AND RITUAL
Part V: Challenges from the Religion of the Planters
17. THE DEMA COMPLEX AND THE CHRIST EVENT
18. WAS THE DEATH OF JESUS A SACRIFICE?
19. PROVIDENCE AND EVOLUTION
20. WOMEN AND THE CHURCH
Buchangaben: Ennio Mantovani SVD, The Dema and the Christ. My Engagement and Inner Dialogue with the Cultures and Religions of Melanesia (Studia Instituti Missiologici SVD # 101), Siegburg: Franz Schmitt Verlag 2014, 297 pp. 24,90 €. ISBN 978-3-87710-540-5
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