Looking Through the Eyes of the Poor and in Solidarity with Them: Contributions of Ton Danenberg to Church and Society
Rico Palaca Ponce
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This article presents the contributions of Ton Danenberg to theology, the church and society. The author made use of his personal recollections of Ton as his formator, mentor, guide, and theology professor during his formation years and theological studies. He borrowed the notion of “identity enacted” from Prof. Johannes van der Ven in order to account for Ton’s contributions. Accordingly, “one’s individual and collective identity is not a phenomenon freely floating high above the daily, mundane lifeworld of ordinary people, but a process which has its roots and is embedded in the individual and collective activities people perform day by day, in both the short and long turn.” One’s identity is enacted as praxis and identity come together. This implies that discerning Ton’s identity and contributions can possibly be traced through his written texts and actions, involvements, positions on social issues, engagements, etc. As one goes through the story of Ton Danenberg, his writings, involvements, and advocacies, one can say that he has charted a life pattern that is coherent and anchored on the optic of the “Other” and of the poor, defenseless, downtrodden, marginalized, and exploited. One can rightly suggest that this is an enactment of his identity or his “identity enacted.”

“We still have to see a theology that proceeds from the people 
and goes back to the people; a theology which contains the
lives and experiences and struggles of the people. This needs
real immersion in the lives, sufferings, and struggles of the
people. It is being written in the midst of the slums, in
dialogue with the poor and their life-situations. It is that
place where we have to listen and learn. It will, for sure, be
different from a theology written in an air-conditioned room.
We must work and struggle for this theology - liberative and
developmental of the people, and transformative for reality."
- Isagani Valle
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