Tuesday, September 03, 2013

95 Theses for Christian Racial & Ethnic Unity: #37

I argue . . . that Christianity in the Western World lives and moves within a diseased social imagination. I think most Christians sense that something about Christians’ social imagination is ill, but the analyses of this condition often don’t get to the heart of the constellation of generative forces that have rendered people’s social performances of the Christian life collectively anemic. Those shortsighted analyses suffer on the one side from unfamiliarity with the deep theological architecture that patterned early modern visions of peoples, places, and societies and therefore lack the sense of what was turned horribly wrong theologically. And on the other side, Christian theology now operates inside the diseased social imagination without the ability to discern how its intellectual and pedagogical performances reflect and fuel the problem, further crippling the communities it serves. That is, theology lacks the ability to see the profound connection between an embrace by a very different people in the chapel and theological meditations articulated in the classroom, between connecting to the earth, to strangers, and to the possibilities of identities formed and reformed precisely in and through such actions . . . . I am convinced that before we theologians can interpret the depths of the divine action of reconciliation we must first articulate the profound deformities of Christian intimacy and identity in modernity. Until we do, all theological discussions of reconciliation will be exactly what they tend to be: (a) ideological tools for facilitating the negotiations of power; or (b) socially exhausted idealist claims masquerading as serious theological accounts. In truth, it is not at all clear that most Christians are ready to imagine reconciliation.

Willie James Jennings, The Christian Imagination: Theology and the Origins of Race (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2010), 6-7, 10.

[Read the Introduction to 95 Theses for Christian Racial & Ethnic Unity here.]

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