If you were to ask me which writers have had the most influence on my theology, Shannon T.L. Kearns would definitely be in the top 10 (right up there with bell hooks and James Cone). I have been reading his blog for several years, and so I was excited when he asked me to read and review his new e-book, Walking Toward Resurrection.
Fr. Shay’s writing gave me permission to do theology that starts with my body, and with the experiences I have in my body. That is something everyone should feel free to do, especially people who are marginalized and oppressed.
Walking Toward Resurrection is a brilliant collection of essays that does just that–Fr. Shay retells the passion narrative (the story of Jesus’ journey to the cross, to the grave, and back) in a way that connects Jesus’ life with Fr. Shay’s own life as a transgender man.
I love the way Fr. Shay connects his own journey (of coming out as a transgender man, and going through different stages of transition) to Jesus’. He talks about his and Christ’s complicated relationships with family and friends, about the pain of dying to an old way of living, and about the joy of living in a renewed body.
This probably isn’t the Easter story you heard in church this Sunday. Too often the story of Christ’s passion is used to glorify violence, promote antisemitism and atonement theologies, and condemn the experiences people (especially queer people) have in their bodies. Even in some more progressive churches, the story of Easter tends to focus on disembodied ideas about salvation.Fr. Shay brings the story of Easter back down to earth, and into the bodies of queer people–their search for acceptance from friends and family, their processes of dying to identities that no longer fit, and their journeys into renewed lives.
It is a book that inspires queer people to listen to the stories their own bodies tell, and how those stories fit into the story of the gospel and the Kin-dom of God.
Fr. Shay has an amazing talent for taking theological concepts that you’d usually only come across in academic writing, and making them accessible and clear. Walking Toward Resurrection is a short and simple read. You could probably finish this book in a day or two, but the theology in it is deep and radical enough to change how you read the gospels forever.
So, as you continue to celebrate Easter (you know that the Easter season lasts like 50 days or something according to the church calendar, right?), pick up a copy of this e-book and read the story in a new, refreshing way. You can order it from Gum Road.
I hope you will!