Forums Spiritual Theology 4.2: The Cross-Cultural Journey

  • 4.2: The Cross-Cultural Journey

     Anonymous updated 10 months, 1 week ago 10 Members · 21 Posts
  • Anonymous

    Deleted User
    December 9, 2020 at 9:12 am

    Share an insight and a question related to “Christian spirituality as a cross-cultural journey” that arose for you from your reading of Mihee Kim-Kort or Randy Woodley.

    Due: initial post by 12/9 and 2+ follow-up posts by 12/11

  • Anonymous

    Deleted User
    December 9, 2020 at 9:26 am

    I really enjoyed Mihee Kim-Kort’s writing on Queer theology and the relationship between hospitality and solidarity. Our church is led by an incredible pastor who happens to be an out gay man. I have certainly seen much of this at play in his work. I think it points to the importance not only of “including” the oppressed but in making sure they are in leadership roles and are supported in those roles, because they do have a tremendous amount to contribute from their unique point of view and experiences. My question is, how can we support more Queer and BIPOC leaders in their development and leadership roles?

    • Anonymous

      Deleted User
      December 9, 2020 at 11:01 am

      I think this is where mentoring can be really powerful. When I first interned at a church, the pastor was a lesbian, and she gave me a lot of insight into how to manage being a visibly queer person in ministry. I think straight/cis/white leaders can be really influential too though, by taking younger queer people and people of color under their wing to help them learn and network with other leaders. This is something that often happens naturally between leaders and mentees who have similar identities – by deliberately seeking mentees of different identities, leaders can use their power to help amplify the voices of others who aren’t heard as often.

    • Anonymous

      Deleted User
      December 10, 2020 at 10:34 pm

      @mariposa8487 – I think a good start is by letting us into church to begin with. I can’t tell you how many pastors told me that I was welcome on Sundays, but not fully into the life of the church before I found the progressive Christian community. Even within that, it’s important to give space for our stories. And with the realization that my story isn’t necessarily the same as the other queer and BIPOC people in the church.

    • Anonymous

      Deleted User
      December 11, 2020 at 2:51 am

      So I know a lot of individual QPOC leaders who are in seminary right now and I think one of the biggest things most of us in the community are struggling with is finances and the ability to pay for our living expenses, tuition, books, etc while we continue along this path. I am well connected to several QPOC activists, organizers, as well as, organizations that do work with members of these communities so if you want a more specific list with direct needs, I can connect you with that.

      (If you’re interested in regularly supporting me, I have a patreon you can join in contributing to!)

      • Anonymous

        Deleted User
        December 11, 2020 at 9:46 am

        Hi SueAnn. I would love that list. Thank you!

  • Anonymous

    Deleted User
    December 9, 2020 at 10:56 am

    I really liked Mihee Kim-Kort’s provocatively titled essay, and the call to “notice something familiar in the stranger.” It reminds me of when I attended the MCC church in Los Angeles, and the pastor invited the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence to our service. They’re a collective of drag performance artists who draw attention to issues surrounding gender expression and sexuality. I’m sure they wouldn’t have been welcome in many churches simply because they did drag, but also wouldn’t be welcome in some more progressive churches because they use religious symbols in their satire, which I can see people finding offensive. At the MCC church though, they really lived out the idea that we can connect in our common humanity in spite of our differences, even fundamental differences about how we viewed religion and faith. My question remaining from Kim-Kort’s article is this: while I think the church is making progress in connecting sinners and outcasts to one another, I question how I “notice something familiar in the stranger” when that stranger is actively working to oppress the sinner and the outcast. It’s easy to be “friendly” with each other on a surface level, but how do we make real connections when the issue isn’t just difference, but unequal power dynamics?

    • Anonymous

      Deleted User
      December 10, 2020 at 6:52 pm

      @jplace – It is definitely a struggle for me when I see those with unequal power dynamics. It’s hard for me to look at those waving the Trump flag and arguing against LGBTQ+ rights and to see Christ in them. On some level, there’s the same pressure I felt when I was an Evangelical Christian to “share the Gospel” with them, but on a progressive level. But at the same time, I feel a sense of self-preservation that says, “why bother? This is the life they have chosen for themselves. There is no need to risk your own safety by engaging with that type.”

      Yet, isn’t that what Kim-Kort is arguing for? I struggle with that.

    • Anonymous

      Deleted User
      December 11, 2020 at 8:41 pm

      I definitely think about this question as well. I think that as an Asian American woman, I’ve had to practice maintaining relationships even through deep dissonance, whether that’s dissonance in power dynamics, culture, language, etc, because that dissonance is everywhere. Woodley writes about how Jesus worked to free both the oppressed and the oppressor. I have to remember how Empire distorts everyone in it, even those who wield the most power, and how the Way of Jesus offers a path to freedom from Empire for us all. I also have to remember all the ways in which I hold power and am the oppressor. We’re all benefitting from some sort of structure at the cost of another’s life –– from the land we live on, to the way our bank accounts operate, to where our food and clothing come from, to how the public infrastructures we use are made. This is not to negate the need to pursue justice or the value for being discerning in who we engage with, but I have to remember the ways in which I also desperately need the mercy of God, that I might have more mercy for others.

    • Anonymous

      Deleted User
      December 14, 2020 at 10:05 pm

      While it might be overused, the concept is helpful. I wonder how you feel about the idea of bridge-builders and the reality that certain people (those with privilege and protections) should be building bridges while those who are being harmed, the oppressed, should not need to carry the burden and risk their physical, emotional and spiritual safety to go “across cultures”.

      Similar to @yisingchou ‘s comment, I believe that politics are context. Those of us born into privilege have been extended mercy in seeing some form of a broader perspective. We have discussed how theology is contextual, and that it is incredibly challenging to untangle ourselves from our personal context to see something bigger, we are all here challenging to see a more expansive God and from broader context. I think there is an invitation to confess that politics are as contextual and that without certain context, particularly for those of us identified as white and privileged, we would have limited perspective and politic as well. Many people in our country are bound and limited to a very specific context, as reflected in our election night map. Certainly with the access to information, this can’t be a complete pass, but it helps me offer humility and even empathy. I believe that the oppressed are bound to their power, privilege and position and yet it is much more fulfilling to be liberated from power, not blinded by it. .

  • Anonymous

    Deleted User
    December 9, 2020 at 4:00 pm

    I really liked how Mihee Kim-Kort wrote about being a neighbor as being “deeply and radically embodied; it’s skin and bones, flesh and blood,” and how this kind of love bring us to where “we do not see anyone as a stranger or foreigner or outsider or enemy; every human being shares our humanity. Every human being is our neighbor.” For me, thinking about embodied presence as an essential act of love is moving in a time when physical proximity to other people is difficult to access. A friend of mine, who is Korean-American, was telling me the other day about how every time she sees a Korean person on the street she automatically assumes they have friends in common or are somehow related. There’s an assumption of family. After she began attending a historically Black church and calling everyone in the congregation auntie, uncle, brother, and sister, she realized that she began having the same experience of familial recognition whenever she saw a Black person on the street. Being in proximity to new community of people expanded the categories of neighbor and family for her.

    The difficult question I have to ask myself is if there are communities around me who inhabit the same streets as me, but whom I have rejected as a neighbor? Who do I withhold hospitality and solidarity from?

  • Anonymous

    Deleted User
    December 9, 2020 at 8:56 pm

    To be honest, I’ve never read anything like this before. I come from a conservative background with a sort of disconnected faith, only in the last two and half years of attending Denver Community Church have I started to expand my thinking. I really resonated with Mihee Kim-Kort on how sexuality was frowned upon and at best ignored. “Embracing an identity of ‘promiscuous people’ is a way of leaning into this radical love” This statement grabbed me. Radical love dissolves borders. No matter what those borders might be.

    • Anonymous

      Deleted User
      December 10, 2020 at 7:33 pm

      @bmantz – It’s a scary thing, isn’t it? To feel or fear judgment from others because of your sexuality? It’s one of those things that I walk a fine line in. I struggle with sharing openly about the reality of my relationship with a married woman (with permission from her husband) because I feel like it will invalidate my story and remove my right to be heard in Evangelical spaces. As if being in a non-monogamous relationship is a bridge too far.

  • Anonymous

    Deleted User
    December 10, 2020 at 7:56 am

    I began doing “mission” work when I was 14 years old. I traveled around the continental US, Central America, Africa, Australia and Spain doing the typical “if you died tonight, do you know where your soul would spend eternity?” type of evangelism. While I loved the opportunity to travel and experience other cultures, I was never comfortable with what we were actually doing there. (This was typical of my experience in Christianity, in general.) Particularly during my time in Uganda, I was aware of the patriarchy and white supremacy within what we were calling “the good news.” Woodley’s article put so many words to the foundations of harmful evangelism: “I am making the argument that the theology of conquest has been a major influence in our missional thinking; a thinking that too easily aligns itself with hierarchy and results in hegemony.“ I’ve spent the last eleven years in what we’ve called a leadership experiment within my congregation. We have put into our system a Trinitarian-inspired leadership model, with three people sharing the title of co-pastor, accountable to our Leadership Council. It is our best attempt at de-centralizing power from one individual (usually male, usually white) to a leadership which better represents, and creates space for, women, LGBTQ-identifying people, and people of color. Woodley’s entire article was inspiring to me because it made me think we are on the right track – but with so much more to learn.

    • Anonymous

      Deleted User
      December 11, 2020 at 9:28 am

      I really appreciate what you have to say here. As a teen I did a lot of mission/service trips and although we did not the evangelism you talk about I still think some component of the experience was lost on me. I think we were so focused on building a house or working on a school “for” the people there we missed the opportunity to truly learn from and embrace their culture. It wasn’t until much later in medical school when I did a rotation in Honduras that involved hiking into remote areas to people’s actual homes with a local public health nurse that knew the community well that I began to learn what it meant to learn from those I am serving. I love the leadership model you have adopted as it definitely creates more space for input and learning from different stakeholders.

  • Anonymous

    Deleted User
    December 10, 2020 at 3:53 pm

    I wrestled with the following statement in Kim-Kort’s writing, “Disidentifying becomes a strategy of transformation and resistance’. Aren’t we supposed to be finding and claiming our identity? We LONG for comfort in our identity…we even now introduce ourselves with “hi, my name is Kate, I identify as she/her”. We value our identities today, I believe hat’s true of humanity throughout time and history.

    But when I hold this statement, which frankly I really struggled with, next to the following from Woodley’s writing, I realize that there is an invitation into a broader identity, not an absence of one.

    “Most often his call was ‘follow me’. Within his own religion, Judaism, following Jesus’ life and example is first and foremost, restoring shalom. The message is universal because God’s original intention for all creation is the restoration of harmony or shalom.” He goes on to suggest that Christianity, organized religion, could be a ‘faulty by-product of Jesus life’.

    This was ALL so very uncomfortable. Disidentifying?? But what about having an identity in Christ? Organized christianity as a faulty byproduct? But then who or what is RIGHT. I recognize this need for RIGHT theology and RIGHT religion popping up a lot in me as I read. I recognized it in my wrestling with “God of the Oppressed” and black liberation theology, “well if black liberation theology is the RIGHT theology then I have nothing to contribute as a white urban dwelling mom of three?”. (white fragility much???)

    But I am recognizing that this search for “the right way to think/believe” is driven primarily by Western values. If I can take off the identity of which I’m most naturally drawn to, perhaps my identification with my gender, my religion, whiteness, my marital status..etc , just as Jesus when interacting with the Samaritan woman at the well, I can be more broadly informed and transformed by “those different from me who are gifted by God and have something to teach.” As opposed to trying to grab onto something that is CORRECT in another person, culture, religion (which btw, *I* would be the one deciding what’s correct? Based on what??) I can make room for the possibility of a much more expansive, universal, mission. One working towards shalom which is to say, the way of Jesus.

    “Christianity was corrupted in the fourth century when it was married to empire and we have struggled ever since. I would like to offer an alternative scenario. Is it possible that Christianity was so easily corrupted because it was never meant to be? Perhaps Christianity as an organized religion, is not what Jesus hoped for when eh said ‘come follow me’. And the relevant question here is, If Christianity was a faulty by-product of Jesus’ life and teachings, then what is mission? Mission, the mission of Jesus, by its very nature must by its very nature at minimum insist on a sense of equality for all”

    • Anonymous

      Deleted User
      December 11, 2020 at 8:11 pm

      Kate, thanks for sharing so vulnerably about you internal wrestle with what you read. I really appreciate how you’re inviting us into your process. Like you, to imagine the ways in which Christianity as an organized religion as possibly a “faulty by-product of Jesus’ life and teachings” is challenging for me, but also opens up so much. It’s hopeful for me to think about how even if the Church as we know it fails as an institution, the Way of Jesus remains, and there will always be people searching to follow it.

  • Anonymous

    Deleted User
    December 10, 2020 at 6:48 pm

    One of the most impactful times in my former church – a conservative Calvary Chapel here in Southern California – was when we would watch the testimonies of the various people who would come forward at the altar calls during our annual evangelistic crusade events. We heard stories of drug addicts, abusive spouses, and gang members who had committed to turn away from their “lifestyle” in order to pursue a “life of holiness,” which, as I now understand, meant entering into the fold of fitting into the White Evangelical lifestyle.

    It was interesting to read Mihee Kim-Kort’s essay now as one who doesn’t fit into the norm of what is expected of a Christian in many Evangelical settings. In fact, it’s interesting to see the layers of what is acceptable in various levels of the church – and how Mihee breaks through all of it to challenge us to an awareness of the stories all around us. The image of God exists all around us – and the challenge for us is to look for and be open to see that in those people that we normally hurry past on the streets. And that is a challenge for me – especially in the light of this election. It’s hard for me to recognize that when I see the things they spout against my right to exist as a trans woman, let alone a queer person.

    When I first came out, I found refuge in the Reformation Project, an organization dedicated to helping train LGBTQ+ Christians and their allies to work towards inclusion within Evangelical settings. Over the last year, however, as I’ve begun to do more of the work about power imbalances and recognizing stories of ALL people, I’ve also found that I didn’t fit into the framework of what’s acceptable within the confines of LGBTQ+ Evangelicalism, according to Matthew Vines, founder of the organization. As one in a non-monogamous relationship, and with other friends who are polyamorous, I find myself once again on the margins, wrestling with self-doubt as to whether or not I am acceptable to God where I am. Meanwhile, I see my old church community as further from my reach, in a place where they dare not venture in fear of being “called out” by the other members of the church or even ostracized with me.

    It’s an interesting place to be, and so I entered into this program with the hopes that I could find a way to use my voice to amplify my story and the stories of those around me in this space, all the while holding space for awareness that there are others whose experience don’t mirror mine but are just as valid.

  • Anonymous

    Deleted User
    December 10, 2020 at 10:41 pm

    This article by Mihee Kim-Kort was a good piece of writing that gave directions on how to get to the practically marginalized. I think “hospitality and solidarity” is a tool that continues to connect God’s creation and a goal that will be realized at the end of the day. The scene where Jesus meets Samaria woman and hospitality and solidarity are realized a surprising scene that suggests a lot to the church in our society today. In this scene, Jesus, apart from the divinity of Jesus, practices his faith and the love of God. And the object was an object hated by the people. I don’t want to tell people as a leader to turn someone you hate into someone you love. But I will say that God’s righteousness, which we believe in and confesses, be fulfilled through practical practice. In other words, we should do the same as Jesus showed faith and love for God through practical practice. The love shown by God is not personal but love for others. It is God’s law to love your neighbor as yourself. So our vocation is to go out towards others.

    Kim-Kort said something worked on his change. Finally, I would like to talk about this action because our love for others will be driven by changes caused by something. Something must be the touch of the Holy Spirit. Also, the change is only possible through the process of repentance and sanctification. I’m not good enough about solidarity with others. So I feel the need to study and pray more.

  • Anonymous

    Deleted User
    December 11, 2020 at 2:46 am

    When reading Randy Woodley’s piece on mission and the cultural other, it brought to mind many memories or stories of my experiences of missionaries or Euro-American Christians that were reflective of issues or themes he presented. One that stuck in my mind was the pastor of my church in Taipei who lived and served here for almost ten years and never bothered to learn Chinese.

    Between reading Mihee Kim-Kort’s work and then considering it’s connection to Woodley’s, I thought about how about six or eight years ago, as I began to talk about the issue of “homosexuality” or bridging conversations of faith and sexuality within the church, I was struck by how unwilling and obstinate many Christians were to even learn about the people, culture, and language of LGBTQ communities, yet had such a persistent expectation of submission. They would often use very offensive terms, and had never bothered to learn how, what, and why LGBTQ people use certain words to describe themselves or not. I think I knew at the time that for many straight heterosexual Christians that their interactions with members of the LGBTQ community were out of a desire to colonize, convert, and dominate them in terms of power rather than one of equality while some did come from a place of compassion and humanization. My experiences as both a person of color and a queer person in the church has faced so much of this dehumanization—my otherness, my difference was treated as an example of my barbarism or savagery and the work of Christianizing me or missions work was to “civilize” me into Euro-American culture as opposed to as an equal or sister in Christ (I would only become such an equal once I learned to assimilate and cast away my otherness). To this day I still meet many Christians who find my posture disgusting or an abomination, whether it is my belief that I am not inherently better, more powerful or entitled since I am a Christian than those they perceive as the other, and when I refuse to claim some sense of superiority, I become that other.

    In regards to Kim-Kort’s reflections on promiscuity, I think that my willingness and proximity to those who many consider promiscuous is perceived as “rubbing off on me” or a reflection of my own personal promiscuity, a mark I wear proudly since I think it is reflective of the Jesus Christ that I serve and follow. My old college minister used to say that the early Christians were considered promiscuous with their love and grace and chaste with their sexual bodies. While I challenge the use of this binarism and the implications of chastity and promiscuity in this context, I do appreciate this illustration and image for its ability to challenge us in our current purity culture context.

    • Anonymous

      Deleted User
      December 11, 2020 at 9:25 am

      The Woodley piece really struck me. I spent my high school years in a town that bordered the Navajo Nation and was on the basketball team with mostly Navajo teammates. In school, I was part of the majority but on my team, I was in the minority numbers wise and I think it gave so much better space for me to learn about them as individuals outside of my own context. The ways in which they included me and were kind to me when honestly the larger culture of our school was not always kind to them made an imprint on my heart. It was clear that the larger culture had much they could learn from these teenagers, away from their families to go to school at such a young age. I’m still in touch with many of them and we can watch each other’s families grow. With the COVID 19 pandemic I’ve also seen my friends disproportionately affected by the virus, illustrating many of the inequities that still oppress our indigenous brothers and sisters.

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