Upolu L. Vaai
Principal and Professor of Theology & Ethics, Pacific Theological College
Lagimālie: The De-Onefication of Pacific theology in the light of eco-relational wellbeing
For the sake of lagimālie (wellbeing), we are invited to resist thinking through systems and specialized categories that have shaped pre-pandemic Eurocentric theologies and development narratives. Such thinking has confined us to view life through single separate strands to achieve one answer, one truth, or one destination. Against this “onefication” of life, including God, this article proposes the embrace of relationality that constitutes us and everything around us if we are to achieve lagimālie for the whole in the context of the pandemic. Hence lagimālie depends on how we navigate the complex interconnectedness of life that constitutes who “we are.” First lagimālie is a “we are” relational multi-strandic approach to life. It goes against the dominant single-strandic approach promoted by institutionalized religion and by the “we have” market-driven neoliberal capitalism that we now know does not work during pandemics. Second, lagimālie in the context of the “we are” means that we shift the responsibility from the “one God” to the “many [in] we.” This involves reframing the theological questions from “why did God punish us” to “what can we do together.” This “we are” approach problematizes the rationalistic direction of the theology of God and also the pietistic heavenization that dominates Pacific Christianity where everything, including pandemics, is transferred to God’s heavenly juridical abode. Third, this article invites us to a lagimālie “we are” consultative process of questioning and radical discernment that involves taking things holistically. The lagimālie of the whole during and post-pandemic depends on this de-onefication wisdom process that is common throughout the Pacific.