Bruce’s Friday Five v9.21

 BOOKS // If you are like me, you are reading more than one book at any given time. Some are for work, others for edification and still others, what I call “brain candy,” for the pure joy of reading.  Here are three books that are are being lugged around in my bag and/or on my kindle these days. If you liked the non-fiction gem, The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America then I guarantee that you will devour Erik Larson’s latest book, In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler’s Berlin. Holy schmoly, only is it a page-turner with the added bonus that you feel yourself getting all smarter and stuff as you read it.  Next up is one that was recommended to me by a friend and professor at the University of San Francisco, Can’t Stop Won’t Stop: A History of the Hip-Hop Generation by Jeff Chang, again, get smarter. And if you really want to dive into the hip-hop scene, grab the pricey That’s the Joint!: The Hip-Hop Studies Reader or give a listen to Blue Scholars’ Cinemetropolis, one of my favorites. And finally, I have been trying to finish my review of T.C. Ryan’s Ashamed No More: A Pastor’s Journey Through Sex Addiction, so I’ll say more about it later, but it’s one of those topics that is simply never talked about; a good one to read.

 The 47% // Okay, I admit it, while I will resist the name-calling and demonizing that is just too easy, after watching the video of Mitt Romney and his comments during a private fundraiser, I for one, do not think that he was pandering or misspeaking. One can argue about whether or not Romney should have said what he said, but I have no doubt that he echoes what many people believe . . . and he has helped to make my choice of Obama or Stein even clearer.  I posted some thoughts on the whole thing, but here is a great post from Rhetoric, Race and Religion [blog | twitter | facebook] and contributor, Rashad Grove, as he muses about a Theology of Privilege. Good stuff.

 GANGNAM STYLE // This week, I REALLY felt out of the pop-culture loop . . . more than usual. Not only was I unfamiliar with most of the songs from this week’s episode of Glee, Britney 2.0, but “Gangnam Style” references were popping up everywhere. Apparently there is this thing called Youtube where people can share movies and this one is a biggie. Thank goodness for Grace Ji-Sun Kim, for dropping a little knowledge for those of us who are out of the know.

THE DEMOCRACY OF INCLUSION // If you are looking for a cool project to support with a few bucks, I just got a note from multimedia journalist and friend, Michael Fagans, about a very cool project that he is working with the Kern Arts Council. From Michael, “One of the reasons that this project resonates with me is that it is a film about and by people with special needs. Rather than document a group of people in our community, the group is turning the camera back on society and talking about and illustrating their experiences with life. All too often people think of special needs children, but no one seems to realize that they grow up to be adults.” This seems like a worthy project, so please like their Facebook Page and, if you feel so called, please join me and donate on Kickstarter.

ONE-LEGGED SOCCER PLAYER // And lastly, from the “If this does not move you, you might just be dead inside” file, here is a 12 second video that made me tear up just a bit. Watch it a few times. Pure awesome. h/t David Lewicki

Five blog highlights since my last Friday Five . . .

  1. Thoughts on Bitter Gun Owners and the Entitled 47%
  2. What the Body of Christ Can Learn from Fantasy Sports
  3. Why This Christian Will Never Own a Gun
  4. A Gift of Perspective in Discerning God’s Call
  5. FREE eBOOK: 54 Leaders Under 50 Share 50+ Ideas to Revitalize Your Congregation

My Friday Five  is a mishmash of weekly-ish happening and people that I find compelling, provoking and/or just plain quirky. If you stumble upon such things over the course of your day, please feel free to pass them along to me via Twitter or Facebook.

Number images are from the Leo Reynolds’ Collection, Creative Commons

Grace Ji-Sun Kim – “Through Hispanic Eyes” – Theological Education and White Privilege

PhotoBy Jose Venegas – venegas on Flickr

Puerto Rico is a beautiful island with lakes, rivers, mountains, rainforests and of course picturesque beaches. I received a warm welcome at the airport in San Juan: 92 degrees with 74% humidity. Despite the hot, humid weather conditions, I went with eagerness to explore the culture, history, and tradition of Puerto Rico and reflect upon theological education in light of Hispanic theology.

This beautiful island was home to 70 seminary students for two weeks as they took courses through the “Hispanic Summer Program” (June 16-29, 2012). In addition, 10 faculty and adminstrators participated in “Through Hispanic Eyes,” a four day ‘mini program’ for non-Hispanic faculty.

I was one of them.

We visited classes and spoke with the Hispanic faculty. The Hispanic faculty shared their own struggles and how this program helped them through their own studies. Our group leader was Dr. Luis Rivera-Rodriguez who is the James G.K. McClure Professor of Theological Education, Dean of the Faculty, Vice President for Academic Affairs at McCormick Theological Seminary. He was both informative and caring which helped us work through some of the various issues that Hispanic students and faculty face during their time in seminary. We had deep and thoughtful discussions regarding white privilege, tokenism, academic and cultural racism.

White privilege is prevalent in our society and also in our seminary classrooms. Not only do students of color have to overcome the negative aspects of white privilege, so too the professors.

As theological educators, the question of erasing white privilege within the classroom is an ongoing concern as it brings an extra layer of unwelcome dynamic within the classroom. Many seminaries do not want to tackle this difficult problem; therefore the question of white privilege is ignored or pushed to the margins. In many ways, seminaries become blind to the issue of white privilege within the classroom and in the institution.

Different countries deal with ethnic minority issues in various ways. I grew up as a Korean immigrant in Canada. Canada is a land of immigrants, where people from all over the world come to live. In Canada, the term used by governments for “people of color” is “visible minorities”. I grew up knowing and internalizing that somehow I was a ‘visible minority”. But what does it mean to be ‘visible’ and a “minority.” In some ways, this term labeled me as someone who stands ‘out’ in a crowd. My face and body became racialized by a society which did not want to accept me as ‘normal’. The irony is that even though I was labeled a ‘visible minority’, I become invisible when it came to issues of race, ethnicity and religious heritage. My visibleness becomes invisible to those in power when the status quo is challenged or provoked. When I reflect upon the colonialism of Puerto Rico, I cannot help linking the “visible minority” to Puerto Rico as viewed by the United States. It is a territory of the U.S. with Commonwealth status which eliminates much of their power and status as a nation. Puerto Ricans are allowed to vote during the U.S. primaries but not during the U.S. general elections. Puerto Rico has been used by the United States to produce cheap goods for Americans to use. Thus in many ways Puerto Rico has become an ‘invisible minority” whose real problems, struggles and dreams have been ignored and erased.

As we bring this back into our classrooms, we must not make the ‘racialized minorities’ within the classroom invisible. We cannot ignore their issues. We must move forward and tackle them. We need to work urgently towards a theological education which will be inviting and inclusive of all people. Theological education needs to identify and name ‘white privilege’ within our classrooms and seek diversity, intercultural, and multi-contextual ways of learning and teaching so that all those whom God calls are valued equally.

Rev. Dr. Grace Ji-Sun Kim received her M.Div. from Knox College and her Ph.D. from the University of Toronto and is an Associate Professor of Doctrinal Theology and the Director of the Master of Arts in Theological Studies program at Moravian Theological Seminary. She is the author of two books, The Grace of Sophia: A Korean North American Women’s Christology and The Holy Spirit, Chi, and the Other: A Model of Global and Intercultural Pneumatology. Grace was recently ordained as a Teaching Elder in the Presbyterian Church (USA) and also blogs for 99 Brattle and at gracejisunkim.

I occasionally host guest bloggers on my blog to expand the breadth of topics I cover as well as help share the perspectives and ideas of people who I feel are particularly compelling.  If you think you have a great idea or know of someone who does, please feel free to contact me and let me know.