“i met god, she’s black” and the death of the author

The first time I saw “I Met God, She’s Black” it was being worn by a friend at seminary. I thought they made it themselves.

It’s not like there’s a bunch of t-shirt companies who:
a) care about theology
b) even if they did, it would probably be pop-theology. So they could make some money off it
c) that Womanism will become public discourse only when it has some kind of market-value.
So the shirt stood out.

On HuffPo, over the weekend they interviewed the artist of the shirt, Dylan Chenfeld. He’s described as a Jewish Atheist who wants to poke fun of sacred cows.

“I’m taking the idea that God is a white male and doing the opposite of that, which is a black woman.”

Additionally, he says he’s not very religious because it’s sexist (I would add among other things including homophobic, transphobic, pro-capitalism, anti-creation to name a few). Chenfeld’s original intent was to poke fun of the “sacred cows” and maybe some get that point. But it is near impossible to separate the proclamation that #BlackLivesMatter from this shirt. Since August, with the murder of Michael Brown, the shirt has taken on a new meaning and I would add something more powerful. Black lives are divine lives!

In the late 1960’s, cultural and literary critic and theorist Roland Barthes published the essay “The Death of the Author”. He explains that we need to disassociate the text from the author, writing:

“We know that a text does not consist of a line of words, releasing a single “theological” meaning (the “message” of the Author-God), but is a space of many dimensions, in which are wedded and contested various kinds of writing, no one of which is original: the text is a tissue of citations, resulting from the thousand sources of culture.

God as a black woman is political, theological, and moreover, a cultural artifact, in which the artist’s original intent is just a layer among many other meanings. I am thankful for this shirt, but more thankful of the beautiful meanings that have been encouraged. May #BlackLivesMatter be our mantra until we start living it. Maybe then it will be included in our daily and sacred liturgies.

the politics of christmas zine

Recently, I helped host an event with the Poverty Initiative titled The Politics of Christmas and the Roman Empire. We sang Christmas songs, snacked on Christmas cookies, sipped hot chocolate, and learned how the birth narratives of Jesus are counter to the Roman Empire’s ideology. Once we finish the curriculum for the program, I will post it on black flag theology.

The one exception is that I am finished with the zine I made for the event. Here it is:

Christmas zine (reading)

Christmas zine (printing)

Enjoy!

cat in a manger secene

riot gear will collect dust: a proclamation from the prophet isaiah of america

Comfort, O comfort my people, says your God.
Speak tenderly to Ferguson, to Brooklyn, to Staten Island,
and cry to them that they have not been forgotten,
they are loved deeply and from the Lord’s hand hope shall be given.

A megaphone cries out:
“In the streets prepare the way of justice,
make straight in city parks a highway for our God.
Every empty lot shall be a home,
and every Trump Tower–rent controlled apartments;
unfair minimum wages shall be living wages,
and riot gear will collect dust.
Then the presence of God shall be unveiled,
and all people shall see it together,
for the mouth of God has spoken.”

A voice says, “Cry out!”
And I said, “What shall I cry out?
Is it for the unjust deaths of Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Akai Gurley or Tamir Rice?
Or the giant gap in economic inequality?
Or that America’s democracy is owned by the Koch Brothers and other corporate elites?”
All people are fragile; their constancy is like the flower of the field.
The grass withers, the flower fades,
when the breath of God blows upon it: “I can’t breathe, I can’t breathe.”
The grass withers, the flower fades; but hope for the end of police brutality and the rise of caring communities transcends life.

Get us up to the main streets, O Ferguson, bearers of another world;
Shout with strength, O New York City, heralds of justice, shout louder, do not fear;
say to the police departments across America,
“BLACK LIVES MATTER! BLACK LIVES MATTER!”
See, the God of justice comes with might, and her hands serve the lowly;
her comforting presence brings about change.
She will bring water for those too tired to shout anymore;
she will rub the feet of those too tired to march anymore,
and she will carry all in her bosom,
and gently lead us to a new heaven and new earth,
one without murders by choking or trigger happy cops.

i cant' breathe

what shall we cry out?: a #staywokeadvent lectionary reflection

A voice says, “Cry out!” And I said, “What shall I cry?”
All people are grass, their constancy is like the flower of the field.
The grass withers, the flower fades, when the breath of the LORD blows upon it;
surely the people are grass.
The grass withers, the flower fades;
but the word of our God will stand forever.
Isaiah 40:6-8

God bless the grass that breaks through cement,
It’s green and it’s tender and it’s easily bent,
But after a while it lifts up it’s head,
For the grass is living and the stone is dead.
And God bless the grass.
“God Bless the Grass” by Malvina Reynolds

For the season of Advent, the Hebrew Bible texts arise from the later chapters of Isaiah. During this time period of Isaiah’s writings, the Judeans had been exiled for over 50 years in the land of Babylon. Their land was destroyed, their Temple flattened, and their faith was shaken. They had lost all hope (just read Lamentations), and believed that God might never vindicate them.

At the time of this passage in Isaiah, the prophet was calling them back to the Promised Land. He was calling for comfort, for valleys to be made level with the mountains, and saying that their sins have been forgiven. Then, in the middle of all the celebrating, a voice says, “Cry out!” But the prophet doesn’t know what to cry. And the question is never answered.

This sounds like our own contemporary conundrum.

What are we supposed to cry out with so many injustices? What should we call out first without starting an Oppression Olympics?

On August 9th, Michael Brown was murdered in the middle of the day by a police officer.

What shall we cry out?

Nearly 70 years ago on that date, the US dropped an atomic bomb on Nagasaki, Japan killing over 80,000.

What shall we cry out?

Since Michael Brown’s murder, several more young black Americans have been killed by police officers.

What shall we cry out?

After the prophet asks the question, the response given is that people are like grass. People’s constancy is like that of a weak, little flower. We fade, wither, and die. And the breath of God, which in other passages brings life, here, brings death. Surely, people are grass. Then maybe that’s it. As I’m told often enough, justice will never come about until God reigns. And so we wait. We wait for other seedling to grow and hopefully they’ll fix some of our racist and sexist attitudes, laws, and perspectives.

But that’s not the end of story. There are other prophets who have rose up and spoke about the grass’ strength. One prophet, Malvina Reynolds, disrupts the prophet’s words saying that grass doesn’t just fade and wither. Grass can also pushes through the cracks in concrete. Unwatched it can take over whole areas. In short, grass is dangerous.

seasons greetings

As we watch reports from Ferguson and around the US, we hear ever loudly the rustle of grass. The spirit of justice blows through the land demanding the end of police brutality against all people, but especially for black and brown persons. This wind knocks over systematic oppressions that haunt many black and brown communities. This wind pushes toward a new world, one just waiting to arrive.

I used to think Advent meant that we wait patiently for Jesus to be born. The kind of waiting we perform at doctor’s offices. I was wrong. Waiting in Advent means to be active in creating God’s Realm, which is always full of justice. Those protesting for the end of police brutality, for Darren Wilson to be charged a just punishment, and for the end of killing black and brown peoples are all practicing a form of Advent waiting. #StayWokeAdvent

my prayer for ferguson, brooklyn, and the school of the americas watch

This weekend, a group of students from Union Theological Seminary and myself travelled to Columbus, GA. We gathered with over 1,000 others to protest for the closing of the School of the Americas (SOA). For nearly 70 years, the SOA has trained soldiers in South and Central America in starting coups, mass murdering los campesinos (poor folk and farmers), and killing political and religious leaders (Allende, Che, Oscar Romero). All of this filters through the ideology of anticommunist propaganda. Thousands of people, named and unnamed, have been killed in the name of freedom and democracy. They have been killed because the powerful want to stay powerful and poor lives do not matter.

As the US military teaches oppressive tactics to the South Hemisphere, we enact it on our own soil by killing black women and men. Law enforcement use their power to rule over communities and, more often than not, get away with it. They get away with tearing lives apart with a modern day lynching. For the killings of Michael Brown, Akai Kareem Gurley, and Shantel Davis, we must continue to cry out for justice. Because unless there is justice for Brown, Davis, and Gurley, there won’t be justice for us all.

justice for mike

My prayer is simply that we use our legs to protest to show our government and police officers that they are unjust in how they treat people of color in the US and around the world. Black lives matter! Brown lives matter!

My prayer is that we use our words to encourage one another. Movements die quickly when their members fight over petty differences.

My prayer is that we use our hands. With one hand, we care about the immediate needs of our neighborhoods and communities. You can’t end global poverty without first knowing and lending a hand at local shelters, soup kitchens, and Catholic Workers. With the other hand, to learn, lead discussions, and think globally about racism, sexism, ableism, etc.

Lastly, my prayer is that we use our hearts to connect with one another. In many movements, the key to being in the in-crowd is to know as much as you can about the area of interest. What if we not only focused on knowledge (How does memorizing statistics on NYC poverty help the person sleeping on the street?), but found empathetic ways to connect with one another.

Let us continue to fight against police brutality.

Fight against racism in the US.

Fight against groups that hinder our causes: the KKK, fascist and racist policies.

Fight for all people to have a decent chance at life.

ferguson

jesus the riddler and the parable of the talents: a sermon

Jesus loved to work with parables. And in Matthew’s Gospel, from the 13th chapter onward, you can find them everywhere. I like to think of parables like I think of riddles. They make your mind think one way, but really the answer is flying in the opposite direction. Growing up, my mom would prepare the children’s sermon every Sunday. She’d gather all the little ones to the front, just like we do here, and usually it was the same format. She would read a short story from a book. Then, we would pray and then sing a song. These stories were part of a tradition that her mother passed on to her. So there was always an intimate sacredness present. I can even still remember some of the illustrations in those books. These stories would always push a certain moral, like obey your parents or trust God in all things. And we can get caught up in doing the same things to Jesus’ parables, making them in moral message.

What’s even worse is that we tend to allegorize the characters.
We place God as the main character and humans perform the smaller roles. And somehow we figure out something to say about God through these parables.

Traditionally, today’s scripture passage has been read as such. Jesus is the master who gives the talents to those who follow him. He then goes away; up to heaven, and during that time Jesus’ followers are making use of their talents. When Jesus returns the followers have to present what they have done with their talents. Rewards are given to those who doubled their talents and for the one follower who buried the talent; he will be cast off into eternal damnation and his one talent will be given to the one with the most. The moral of the parable is: “the rich get richer and the poor get poorer.”

Does this sound like Jesus? The one who told the rich young man chapters earlier, “If you want to be complete, go, sell what you own, and give the money to the poor.”  (Matthew 19:21 CEB)

Does this sound like the Jesus who said, “When you give to the poor, don’t let your left hand know what your right hand is doing so that you may give to the poor in secret”? (Matthew 6:3-4 CEB)

Does this sound like the Jesus who made it clear that ” You cannot serve God and wealth”? (Matthew 6:24 CEB)

Jesus teaches against the notion that the rich should get richer while the poor get poorer. To follow Jesus means to give up your wealth and give everything to those in need. Then, why does this parable sound like it’s telling us to do the very opposite?

As some of us heard last week, this is Jesus’ Second Sermon on the Mount. Although, this time it’s less about how we should live and more about how we should get ready for God’s Realm to crash on Earth.

Jesus, in Matthew’s Gospel would often start his parables by saying
“The kingdom of heaven is like this…” Strangely, our parable doesn’t start off this way; instead it reads, “it is as if.” Maybe Jesus is not speaking of the kingdom of heaven, maybe it’s about another kingdom that one should use caution living in.

We hear of the Master giving his most trustworthy and inner circle of slaves his money. It should be noted here that it’s “to each according to his ability.” Already, we know that the last slave couldn’t be trusted with more than just one talent. Which is still a ton of money in the ancient world. If one denarius was the daily wage of a laborer, then one talent was worth 600 denarii. That’s almost two years of work.

The parable continues that immediately the master leaves the slaves with the money.

The first and second slaves go off and double their talents. But how? Did they double it through opening new businesses or were they flipping houses or investing it in the stock market? When I was researching this I found that much of it was through giving small loans to farmers. Now this doesn’t sound so bad, except that the contracts were written up so that the farmers had to use their land as collateral. The idea was that eventually the farmer’s crops would fail, the farmer could not pay the loan off anymore, and the loan granter would then own that land. With 2010’s mortgage crisis, still fresh in our memory, we know that these types of situations still happen. It’s quite possible then that the first and second slaves exploited their friends and others who lived nearby with these loans.

The third slave did something very curious though he buried the talent. He did not participate in exploiting those around him. The burial of the talent looks like a bad deal, but it was his resistance.

This practice of a master giving his money to his slaves was a peculiar Roman law called peculium. The idea was that although the master was giving money to the slaves, it was never the slave’s money, but always the master’s. Because remember: slaves owned nothing. And to make sure that this was upheld, there were stacks of Roman law books that insured that the slaves gave back their master’s money.

And in my mind this is related to the phenomena of Halloween.
Every year, parents purchase or make their kids Halloween costumes. The parents decorate the house and buy candy for other costumed kids. The night of Trick-or-Treating parents chaperon the kiddos going door-to-door gathering up candy. Jimmy Kimmel, late night talk show host, started a tradition where parents take a video of their children’s reaction when they tell the kids that they ate their Halloween candy. My favorite response this year was a little boy who opens all of the kitchen cabinets angrily and then looks to camera and says, “Get out!” There are other videos of little ones saying, “That’s okay mommy. You must have been hungry. There’s always next year.” Under the system of peculium, it is perfectly right for the parents to eat the kid’s candy, it’s not like the kids did anything to deserve the candy, it was all the parent’s doing, the costume, the evening of trick or treating. But as the children in these videos remind us it may not be perfectly right.

Continuing with the parable, when the Master finally returns, the slaves present their talents. In the case of the first two slaves who doubled their talents the Master exalted them saying, “Well done, good and trustworthy slave; you have been trustworthy in a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.” In the sight of the Master, they did well in getting him more money through a means that harmed others.

The third slave talked back to the Master saying, “Master, I knew that you were a harsh man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you did not scatter seed; so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours.” He gave back to the master was he received. This friends, was a slap in the face. The Master responds with name calling with words like wicked, lazy, unworthy. And this should make our ears perk up. The slaves who doubled their talents were trustworthy, while the last slave’s worth was denied.

The Master eventually throws out the third slave into outer darkness where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth for resisting and talking back.

The Apostle Paul reminds us in Romans 12 to “weep with those who weep, to associate with the lowly. Do not repay anyone evil for evil.” In short, we are to live as Christ lived.

This is our calling. To weep with those who are in the outer darkness. To take their hands and stay with them. To associate ourselves not with the Masters of this world, but with the lowly, the outcast. The third slave was courageous, but at the same time was afraid. There are many more in this world that allow fear to hold them back from calling out their abusers. May we be a people who keep our eyes peeled and hearts open to love the outcast and dive deep into the outer darkness even if we are too afraid of what we might find.

somewhere between prayer and revolution

The Flobots penned this lyric, in my title, in the opening line of “Same Thing.” The lyrics continue with “between Jesus and Huey P. Newton.” And on this particular Sunday in the month of October, we find ourselves holding these same tensions. This weekend is #fergusonoctober and I am grateful that many of my peers from Union Theological Seminary are there participating in these actions. As well, yesterday was National Coming Out Day, when those who identify as queer come out as their true selves to family members, friends, and their communities. Last and certainly least, tomorrow is columbus day. Thankfully, a few cities are renaming this day to Indigenous People’s Day.

This weekend raises our awareness that we are not close to having a just society.

Hands Up, Don't Shoot

So I wanted to write a prayer:

God of our world,
We look around us and see injustice everywhere
Our society is overripe with white supremacy,
racism, sexism, ableism, and hatred of the poor.
We ask for your forgiveness because we recognize through scripture
that Jesus cared for all and repented when he did not (Mark 7:25-30)

We pray for those in Ferguson this weekend with #fergusonoctober
our hearts are on fire for Michael Brown and his loved ones.
our hearts are on fire that Darren Wilson will feel convicted and turn himself in.
our hearts are on fire for a movement that rejects colorblindness for real talk about racism.

We pray for the strength for those who come out to their family and friends
we pray that queer persons find supportive communities
we pray an end to queer youth being kicked out on the street
we pray that queer person know that they are beloved by God

We pray for Indigenous communities living in the US and around the world
may their cultures stand firm in the face of colonization
may they continually decolonize from white supremacy
may they find hope in their communities

God, we pray for the end to all war
an end to poverty,
and an end to apathy.
May we follow you in the ways of justice and peace. Amen.

theologically imagining via comic books

Typically comic books and theology sound odd together in conversation. They represent two separate camps; one’s stationed beyond the trees in the land of pop-culture and superheroes. While the other is found amongst the cloud-covered mountains. And never the twain shall meet. This summer I sunk my teeth deep into the comic book cosmos. And after some exploration, I understand comic writers, artists, and producers as theologians. Comic books construct theology with intricate eschatologies, varying cosmologies, and present us with new paradigms to fathom the divine.

But before I dive into some detail about comics, I must confess I am not a fan of the comic philistines, Marvel and DC Comics*. Their ontological and eschatological perception is shallow, to say the least. Rather, I hone in on comic publishers, which allow for creator ownership, i.e. Image, Dark Horse, and Boom!. These publishers allow for artists and writers to go their own creative direction. This also allows for variance in styles, characters, and universes, unlike Marvel and DC.

SagaMy absolute favorite series is Image Comics’ Saga. It takes place during a galactic war and recounts the story of a little mixed-breed girl (a horned head and a wingéd back) named Hazel and her family. Her parents, Alana, who is part of the wingéd colonizer planet, fell in love with Marko,  a colonized magical horned moonie.** The first issue, Alana, beautifully, bearing all, gives birth to Hazel. And thus begins the journey of this sci-fi Romeo and Juliet hiding from their respective planetpeoples. Along the way, we meet bounty hunters, a planet of sex-workers, and creatures with computer monitor as heads. This is certainly not your parent’s comic book.

At the 2014 San Diego Comic Con, Saga not only won 3 Eisner awards, which is the highest achievement in the comic book world, but they hosted a stellar panel. The writer Brian Vaughan and artist Fiona Staples discussed how Saga began. During Brian’s first discussion with Fiona about the characters, he objected to another redhead in space claiming there are just too many in science fiction. Fiona replied by asking why do the characters need to be white? The outcome of that conversation is the current series with the majority of the cast with darker skin and an array of hair and body types. For Fiona, the future is not made up of only white people like such recent sci-fi films as Lucy or Her portray. Rather, the future, like the present, is full of many diverse populations, creatures, and hopes.

MoltmannSimilarly, Jürgen Moltmann claimed in his magnum opus, Theology of Hope, “Christianity is eschatology, is hope, forward looking and forward moving, and therefore also revolutionizing and transforming the present” (pg. 16). Or simply put, “Who controls the past now, controls the future. Who controls the present now, controls the past,” as sung by Rage Against the Machine. The ways in which we construct our eschatology determines how we treat others and the Earth now.

For instance, premillennial dispensationalists believe God will one day rapture those who declare Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Savior, and for the next seven years God will torture those left behind and torch the Earth. For them, if God is already going to destroy the Earth, then they should not be concerned about her fate today. Sadly, many congresspersons and businesses have jumped on board secularizing and Americanizing this idea allowing them to destroy our Earth. But we cannot give up hope!

Because science fiction, normally, orients future-forward, they have the opportunity to breathe new life and vision. The question for religious institutions, then, is how can we understand a beautiful future and participate in that future now? And this is where comics can lend a hand. Comic artists and writers can guide us in broadening our theological imagination.

Here are a few tips for theologically imagining:

There are no theological crossing guards!

In the Christian Scriptures we read “with God all things are possible.” And this phrase is found in different contexts throughout the Gospels (Matt 19:26, Luke 1:37, Mark 10:27) that it can be a broad framework for how it was being used. Could this mean that all things are possible with God including disrupting the laws of physics? Possibly. Or it could also mean a world where no one is hungry or has to live on the streets? I sure do hope so. Unfortunately, our religious institutions have not stretched their theological imagination. Many of the same cataphatic dogmas have not changed for centuries. Yet, no one is stopping us from crossing into new theological territory.

Humans are part of creation, not the end of all creation.

Genesis 1 beautifully describes that when God had finished creating, God saw that all of creation was very good. This does not mean that it was humanity that made creation especially good, rather its fullness made it very good. This breaks a crack in our normalized anthropocentric theology and helps us to imagine and include non-humans. We can start to imagine new theologies of tigers, otters, and iguanas. We can theologize with clouds, volcanoes, and bumblebees. Or even soaring in the Milky Way and beyond with planetary theologies of galaxies, black holes, and quarks. No-thing is the limit!

We are shaped by our surroundings, and shape our surroundings.

Our mere presence changes group dynamics, neighborhoods, churches, and the room. This gives us the chance to inspire new thoughts, to sing new songs, and change ourselves and the world for the better. Although, we need be conscious in our participation in creating these spaces within ourselves for transformation.

Better futures could arise with dialogue between comic books artists/writers and theologians.

I’m ready!

*There are exceptions including Ms. Marvel (2014) and Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns.
**He lives on a moon colony adjacent to the colonizing planet.

the people’s climate march and hermeneutics

I’ll admit it: I’m a hermeneutics fanatic. Whenever I enter a bookstore, I head straight for the literary criticism section. There is something enthralling thumbing through Roland Barthes’ Mythologies, Edward Said’s postcolonial criticism of Jane Eyre‘s madwoman in the attic, and the overweight, almost 3,000 page, Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism. I am fascinated about the different ways one can read a text and the world.

And it’s not like this is a new phenomena. Writers and critics alike have been reading and re-reading texts for centuries coming to different conclusions. For instance, in my Sunday School class, ages 6-13, I wanted to give them a hermeneutical key to read Scripture. I offered what I called a good news model, i.e. looking for good news in every passage. After explaining it, the first question posed was why we think Jesus’ death on the cross is good news? This third grader said that it sounds like bad news. I couldn’t help but agree. A man dying/dead on a cross plastered all over our churches is not good news. The good news, I explained, is God raising Jesus from the dead. God redeemed what was made deplorable. God transformed the pitiful and made right what Roman Empire deemed wrong. That’s Good News. And in a different context, I would have explained something more nuanced.

This weekend I participated in the People’s Climate March in NYC. It was hermeneutical heaven. Everyone with a sign, unless it was massively reproduced, had a varying lens in which to approach Climate Change.

fracking: little economic gain counts for nothing if you’re destroying the Earth and you can’t drink the water.

veganism: against factory farming, the destruction of the Amazon rainforest for grazing land for cows

anti-capitalism: Global Capitalism casts a deadly shadow across the whole world. it will take, borrow, and steal anything, and re-directs climate justice discussion to neo-liberal laws

personal reasons: guilt for voting and registering as Republican (saw a sign reading, “Ashamed Republican”), concern for one’s grandchildren

Climate change

It’s these various anthems that make marches great. And even if we don’t have the same platform, we can still chant, sing, and march together. And this happens everyday and is concentrated in religious worship services. Not all United Methodists congregants interpret Scripture or even the hymns the same way. The same can be said for Muslims reciting the Qur’an, Jews singing Torah, or Hindus interpreting their sacred texts.

So what can we take away with different hermeneutical perspectives? First, that we shouldn’t make sweeping assumptions about groups of people or even individuals about the way they view the world or read. Second, humanity and the cosmos are full of contradictions, blind spots, and missteps. No one approach will be perfect, it may be complete, but never perfect. Lastly, that one should explore other traditions, while at the same time going deeper in their own. In this way, one can show respect toward others and are able to articulate their own hermeneutical lens.

Interpreting texts and the cosmos should life-giving and not a burden.

cosmopolitan theology: reconstituting planetary hospitality, neighbor-love, and solidarity in an uneven world (book review)

Cosmopolitan Theology: Reconstituting Planetary Hospitality, Neighbor-Love, and Solidarity in an Uneven World

Namsoon Kang’s Cosmopolitan Theology represents a great feat for post-identity politics and theologies. It is a book of impossibilities, dreaming of new ways to theologize and work for justice for the entire world. For this project, Kang takes up cosmopolitan theory. Yet, like with any theory comes a set of responsibilities. Kang, channeling Deleuze, believes that theory must be constructed for new times, rather than the usual rehashing of past theories that perpetuate inequality. In the first chapter, Kang lists the major aspects and misconceptions of cosmopolitanism including: it is not liberal multiculturalism that uncritically celebrates cultural/ethnic difference but without commitments to making changes in sociopolitical power-disparities between differences; it is about unconditional hospitality, planetary solidarity and responsibility, welcoming the other, and cosmic neighbor-love (18). Cosmopolitan Theology constructs a theology unafraid of the Other, promoting neighbor-enemy-love, and diligent for a justice without borders.

The project can be split in three sections. The first defines the several meanings of cosmopolitan. Cosmopolitanism has been theorized by the ancient Stoic philosophers and more recently by postcolonial and cultural theorist Homi Bahbah and Gayatri Spivak. Among such diverse definitions, Kang further explains their uses in political and philosophical discourses. She demonstrates a vast understanding of their implications. For instance, Kantian cosmopolitanism categorizes persons according to their geographical and climate location, which according to him indicates their intellect and social standing in the world. As well, Taoism reversed the assumed divine hierarchical structures found in Confucianism for an equal divine utopia, where all are welcome. Henceforth, Kang constructs her cosmopolitanism as planetary-we-ness and solidarity-in-alterity (91). All humans must be responsible for one another because all are part of the same human family.

The next section focuses on the theories of trans-religious solidarity and the feminist theory of natality. For trans-religious solidarity, Kang proposes a way of radical inclusion and understanding of other religions. Currently, even with the more assumed tolerant ways of approaching religions seem artificial since there is little to no interaction between any religion. Rather, minority religions are treated as tokens and that they do not have anything to offer to the world. In addition, a view of tolerating other religions is always based on the terms of the tolerator (104). Kang aims for a trans-religious solidarity that allows for disagreement, encourages dialogue, and values an understanding that all religions do not have an absolute hold on truth. Natality opposes Western thought, which understands everything from the vantage point that all will eventually die. One has the possibility of having a few natal experiences, which were originally formulated by Hannah Arendt, with factual, political, and theoretical implications, which all open us to freedom. In this way, everyone is growing, changing, progressing, and processing. With respect to cosmopolitanism, natality grants us the opportunity to see the world-community beyond differences of ethnicity, ideology, and gender to viewing all as neighbor.

The final section proposes a cosmopolitan theological praxis. Threading through this section is a political-prophetic call for loving one’s neighbor as oneself. Furthermore, Kang’s ideal theologians are ones who cross boundaries, which is the same call Derrida put forth for philosophers. For Kang, the reader will discover, that theory must always interact and perform an action. Thus, when she is questioned as whether men can use feminist theory or if straight persons can write a queer theology, she claims an energetic yes (82)! This comes for the sake of the betterment of the human and Earth community. We must always push beyond the limits of our own identity to grant dignity for all persons. Cosmopolitanism is an ethic of responsibility in the face of an ever-growing uneven world. Thus, humans must dream the impossible vision of God’s kin-dom for the sake of neighbor-love and compassion.

Kang’s Cosmopolitan Theology challenges the status quo of contemporary theology. This opens a new field of theology that does rest on one’s identity marker, i.e. LGBTQ, Latin@, Black; instead, sorts them in the same category, cosmopolitan. In a certain sense, this has the possibility to create new theologies, ones more intersectional, yet at the same time, it could allow theology to remain as it is. In other words, the fields would open for anyone to participate in any theology, i.e. a white female writing mujerista theology, and this could dislocate once again those on the margins to continue without a voice.

The discussion on trans-religious solidarity was lacking in some respects. For example, I agree that tolerance is not enough in respecting other religions and not making them tokens. On the other hand, Kang does not give us the tools to deconstruct passages Christians use to exclude other religions (John 14:6), rather she states the verse, gives a vague hermeneutical approach (to de-Christianize the verse and to put it into a first-century context), and moves on (100). In the closing of the chapter, Kang promotes a softening of values for any given religion to emphasize the mutuality in the human family through cosmopolitanism. Agreed; religions must change their exclusivist notions, especially in the age of globalization and the Internet. However questions still remain towards the denunciation of religions for cosmopolitanism. Is then cosmopolitanism taking the place of religion? Is this not a kind of colonization, exactly what Kang fights against? Isn’t exclusivity the harbor in which religions stay afloat?

Overall the text creates new horizons for theology. Kang helps us to deconstruct identity theologies and envision them as “provisional, temporal, and partial and move toward a larger community of radical equality and boundary-less inclusion” (29). Cosmopolitanism embraces boundaries only to transcend them for a wider community. This text dreams big, and like Kang’s suggestion for other religions, this book is not the final truth on cosmopolitanism, but the very beginning of a wonderful new field of theology.