Ten years ago Rebecca Chopp described how women’s voices and feminist practices were transforming theological education and the church. Women, she said, were “doing saving work.” At a time when the diversity of feminist theology defies tidy definitions and agreed-upon agendas, “doing saving work” suggests what’s afoot in feminist theology today—bold reinterpretations of Christianity that seek to renew the life of the church and its witness to the world.
Malcolm Gladwell, author of the popular book The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference, was born in Canada to an English father and a Jamaican mother. He did not look black until he let his hair grow out Afro-style. With the Afro he started getting “stopped and frisked on the streets of America for no other reason than looking like a black American.” This experience of racial profiling was the inspiration for his most recent book, Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking, which delves into the psychology of the “unconscious mental processes we all use to size up a person or a situation with just a few telling details” (Black Issues Book Review, July-August).
Paul and Jesus, each facing a crisis, are tempted to succumb to despair and fear. Each man has gone out in ministry to his own people and been rejected. Paul recognizes that his Jewish listeners do not accept his message about Jesus and opens Romans 9 with what is the barest beginning of his anxious questioning about whether God’s salvation story still includes the people of Israel.
I had a classmate at an evangelical Christian college who repeatedly defined faith as “stepping out of airplanes, knowing that God will catch you.” My response was that surely God had better things to do than catch folks stupid enough to step out of airplanes. Matthew’s story of Jesus walking on the water with Peter can spawn bad theologies.
The key to building a congregation of people from diverse ethnic backgrounds is to appeal to them in ways that trump their differences.