Sacred Seminary Symposium

Episode 6: “Solidarity”

In this episode, Sabrina and I discuss Ada Maria Isasi-Diaz’s book Mujerista Theology, specifically looking at chapter 5: “Solidarity: Love of Neighbor in the Twenty-First Century”.

In this chapter Isasi-Diaz brings the word “Solidarity” under examination highlighting how often human beings, specifically those of us in the dominant culture, have a fondness for this word but miss the praxis aspect completely. Solidarity isn’t just a nice feeling of community, but a legitimate standing with the oppressed groups, identifying with them. Not in the terms of becoming as the oppressed but in terms of standing with them as you are. This distinction is a difficult one to walk through, but it’s necessary. In this discussion, Sabrina and I take up the mantle of Isasi-Diaz’s definition of and ethical for solidarity, her criticisms of “charity”, and her definition of sin as “alienation.”

Sabrina and I discuss some of the primary themes of the chapter and drive home the recurring theme that our praxis as Christians matters…And as Sabrina reminds us at the end, it shouldn’t be about “guns blazing” which leads to alienation but to listen and see what is necessary to communicate in that moment.

Here are some quotes from the chapter we look at specifically:

“From a Christian perspective the goal of solidarity is to participate in the ongoing process of liberation through which we Christians become significantly positive force in the unfolding of the ‘kin-dom’ of God. At the center of the unfolding of the kin-dom is the salvific act of God. Salvation and liberation are interconnected. Salvation is gratuitously given by God; it flows from the very essence of God: love. Salvation is worked out through the love between God and each human being and among human beings. This love relationship is the goal of all life–it constitutes the fullness of humanity.”

Page 89

“But why are the poor and the oppressed those with whom we must be in solidarity? Why does overcoming alienation demand a preferential option for the oppressed? The reason is not that the poor and the oppressed are morally superior. Those who are oppressed are not personally better or more innocent or purer in their motivations than the rest of us. The preferential option at the heart of solidarity is based on the fact that the point of view of the oppressed, ‘pierced by suffering and attracted by hope, allows them, in their struggles, to conceive another reality. Because the poor suffer the weight of alienation , they can conceive a different project of hope and provide dynamism to a new way of organizing human life for all.’ This contribution , which they alone can give, makes it possible for everyone to overcome alienation. The preferential option for the poor and the oppressed makes it possible for the oppressors to overcome alienation, because to be oppressive limits love, and love cannot exist in the midst of alienation. Oppression and poverty must be overcome because they are ‘a slap in the face of GOd’s sovereignty.’ The alienation they cause is a denial of God. Gutierrez refers to the profoundly biblical insight of the Bolivian campesino: ‘an atheist is someone who fails to practice justice toward the poor.’”

page 91

“Mutuality of the oppressor with the oppressed also starts with conscientization. To become aware that one is an oppressor does not stop with individual illumination but requires the oppressor to establish dialogue and mutuality with the oppressed.[..] Oppressors who are willing to listen and to be questioned by the oppressed, by the very action of listening begin to leave behind their role as oppressors and to become ‘friends’ of the oppressed.”

Page 95

“But this does not mean that we can wait until we have a perfect strategy or a perfect moment to act. No strategy is perfect. There are always internal problems and inconsistencies that need to be worked out. All strategies involve risk. This should never keep us from acting; it should never delay our work to try to establish mutuality, to create a community of solidarity committed to change oppressive structures, a community in which no one group of oppressed people will be sacrificed for the sake of another. This is what mutuality, the strategic component of solidarity, will accomplish.”

Pages 98-99

White Supremacy, Mysticism, and Feminism

Welcome to Sancta Colloquia episode 101 ft. Kate Hanch

In this episode, I talk with my friend and colleague Rev. Kate Hanch (Twitter: @katehanch) and we discuss mysticism, feminism, and white-supremacy.  It’s clear that in this conversation I am wading into unknown theological waters, and Kate proves to be a good swim coach and life guard. She deftly moves me from my default to skepticism of mysticism into a “hot-damn!-Maybe-I-should-rethink-this” mindset. The way in which Kate engages medieval female  mystics rightly challenges my average (mis?)conceptions about Mysticism. She reveals that mysticism isn’t only about our vertical relation with God, but also about participating in the horizontal actively and politically. So, if you’ve ever thought mysticism was merely a means for Christians to “Jesus-Juke” out-of-body experiences, think again. Mysticism has been and continues to be a means to combat and overhaul oppressive systems in society and challenge the status-quo.

Intrigued? You should be. Listen here via Screaming Pods (https://www.screamingpods.com/):

A huge THANK YOU to my friend and producer Sean Duregger (Twitter: @seanCduregger) and Screaming Pods (Twitter: @ScreamingPods) for hosting Sancta Colloquia (Twitter: @SanctaColloquia). Also, a big hug to my friend Danielle Larson (Twitter: @DanielleELarson) for helping me record a test run.

To hear (and see) more from Kate about medieval female mystics, specifically on Julian of Norwich, watch this video by Dr. W. Travis McMaken (Twitter: @WTravisMcMaken):

The Rev. Kate Hanch is studying theology at Garrett Evangelical seminary, and is also ordained in the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship.  Kate specifically studies medieval female mystics and 19th century black female mystical preachers.

Here are some resources from Kate for further reading and studying:

Andrews, William. Sisters of the Spirit: Three Black Women’s Autobiographies of the Nineteenth Century, Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1986.
Bostic, Joy R. African American Female Mysticism: Nineteenth-Century Religious Activism. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013.  This is the book, more than any others, that challenged and changed my view of mysticism.
Crawley, Ashon T. Blackpentecostal Breath: the Aesthetics of Possibility. New York: Fordham University Press, 2017.
McGinn, Bernard, ed. The Essential Writings of Christian Mysticism. Modern ed. New York: Modern Library, 2006.
Newman, Barbara. “Annihilation and Authorship: Three Women Mystics of the 1290s.” Speculum 91, no. 3 (July 2016): 591–630.

Pelphrey, Brendan, and Julia Bolton Holloway. Lo, How I Love Thee! Divine Love in Julian of Norwich.  Spring Deer Studio, 2012.

Ruffing, J.K. ed. Mysticism and Social Transformation. Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press, 2001.
Washington, Margaret. Sojourner Truth’s America. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2011

Sancta Colloquia: Sacred Conversations

Ezeruncaged is laid to rest, but I’m not. Welcome to my newest podcast project: Sancta Colloquia.

“Sancta Colloquia” is latin for: Sacred Conversations.

Some of my favorite episodes of Ezeruncaged were the times friends were invited to participate. The different voices added to our familiar tones, the varying view points highlighted where co-hosts had become too similar. So, when Ezeruncaged dissolved, I thought to myself: why not create a podcast that was comprised of just conversations with other people? I know a bunch of really interesting people; access to potentially great dialogues and conversations is no further than a few key strokes away. In reality, it’s just making public some of the cool conversations I’m already having day to day in various venues. Simple enough.

But, in order to have really good conversations, the space in which those conversations occur has to be safe, it needs to be valued as sacred. And making and maintaining safe spaces is something I know I’m good at. I’m hardwired to create safe spaces for those around me, be it pastorally (in the classroom with my high-school students who are learning to express themselves theologically and philosophically), maternally (making sure my children feel at ease in their environments as they grow in various ways), or relationally (I’m that friend who is not afraid to sit with you in whatever condition you may be in). Human beings are remarkable and amazing creatures. Every time we come into contact with each other, it is an opportunity for that interaction to become an event-encounter, where the divine is present and experienced, and an opportunity for that space to become sacred. With presence and orientation toward the other, that space and that event-encounter are protected and safe. And there’s no better place than from there to have a really good conversation.

I want to be clear, though, about what I mean by “safe place” because, certainly, “safe place” has also become code for: I get to say and do whatever I want no matter how cruel and mean it is. I’ve seen “safe place” and “gospel freedom” used to justify therapeutic hedonism, the type of activity that only ever eventually becomes another law unto itself. In this type of “freedom” and “safe space” the only activity that is allowed is that which lacks virtue and is merely a means to do all the things you’d never do and say all the things you’d never say  irl or in relation to another living, breathing, flesh and bone human beings. Here, in this type of false free and safe place, the territorial flags of “Vitriol” and “Condemnation” wave at full mast.

In the past, I’ve been face to face with such therapeutic hedonism and abuse of freedom and safety and even though it bothered me to no end, I remained silent. In the past I’ve also participated in this type of “freedom” and “safety” and, well, the only thing I have from participation is regret. Immense regret. Bearing the name of Christ, being a disciple there in and labeled a Christian, I have no right to partake in any such behavior or do I have any right to be silent in the midst of such behavior. To love Christ is to love others both when I’m face to face with them and when I’m not. (Full Stop)

Thus, this safe place is for conversation that brings life not only to those participating directly in the conversation, but also to those who choose to listen in. This freedom is for sharing pain and healing, discouragement and encouragement, anger and joy, bondage and freedom, the good and the bad, all with the goal that maybe, just maybe, someone else out there needs to hear these very words. This podcast is and these conversations are a safe place for building up and encouraging and empowering other people.

The only tearing down that will occur will be the tearing down of oppressive and abusive systems that we’ve grown all too accustomed to tolerating in our society and in our churches. Using story and experience, dialogue and conversation, vulnerability and authenticity, community and individuality, questions and answers or silence, my hope is that this podcast will expose (unto life) where we are lacking and exhort us to better activity in the world, activity based in and founded on the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the good news, the proclamation of the Cross.

So, with that said: Welcome to Sancta Colloquia; I’m glad you’re here.

Twitter: @SanctaColloquia