Responding to Global Gender Injustice by Grace Ji-Sun Kim

Grace KimThe church’s traditional understandings of the Creation story, the Trinity, the Eucharist, the Resurrection, Ecclesiology, Anthropology, Body, Atonement, and Sin have reinforced the subjugation of women. The book, Reimagining with Christian Doctrines:  Responding to Global Gender Injustice” co-edited with Jenny Daggers (Palgrave Macmillan) provides a snapshot of feminist voices within the United States and the United Kingdom who are examining theology from a global woman’s perspective. These voices reveal some of the pain and injustice which still exists in our churches as we continue to teach doctrines in ways which support complementary gender roles that feed the imagination of what women and men might be, in their own right and in relation to one another.

We recognize that gender injustice varies throughout the world. Some cultures are more patriarchal and gender discriminatory than others. In this recognition, we hope our voices will show solidarity with women around the globe. We examine old doctrines which persist in our world, critique them, and reconstruct or redeploy them for our present context. As we offer new ways of being and new ways of imagining, we hope these new voices will bring hope, peace, and justice to a world which persists in the old ways.

Reimagining recognizes that there are ideas that obscure reality, like rose-colored glasses that give a false tint to the world. The present Church doctrines need to be reworked in light of feminist revelations of ecclesiastical imbalances, the move of Christian theological discourse to the global south and the recognition that traditional Eurocentric theological doctrines do not always address the concerns of minorities within that world and majorities which live outside of that world in Africa, Asia, and South America. Contributors to the book join those who have set about this task of seeing things with untinted eyes.

Reimagining requires courage as it provokes us to leave our traditions, and in some cases overturn our traditions. It requires courage because it means “letting go.”  Many people have a romantic notion of “reimagining” as if it is like a fictional journey we can leave when we close the book or leave the theater. But if we take it seriously, we realize that it takes courage to begin this important step toward changing our faith and our churches.  Reimagining also means taking a “risk.” A risk to make a mistake, a risk to lose what one has and a risk to feel betrayed by one’s people and to feel you are betraying them. It also means being open to changing one’s course.  In addition, it also denotes creating new ideas or reforming old ideas. As an exploration of new ideas, this book shows a risk-taking courage on the part of these feminist thinkers who are located in different social strata and different places in the world. Their creativity shapes their critique of current doctrines, and their new proposals for reimagining and framing our ideas of person and community.

The book challenges traditional ways of thinking and traditional boundaries. Each writer was able to move these boundaries, which have traditionally framed women as subordinate and subjugated.  Denominationally, contributors write from a variety of contexts.

This is what we offer. Pamela K. Brubaker’s reimagined doctrine of creation stresses God as creator and God’s charging us with the  responsibility to care for Creation. She offers a much needed contextual, ecumenical, transformative theological reflection on women, economy, and creation based on the AGAPE process, which has implications for the worldwide church.  Jenny Daggers examines Trinitarian liturgical language with a focus on Eucharistic liturgy. Envisaging those sharing in the Eucharistic liturgy as being drawn into a Trinitarian embrace, Daggers offers a meditation on the reach of this Trinitarian embrace in a world that cries out for solidarity in the struggle for justice. Cynthia L. Rigby reimagines the Christian doctrine of the bodily resurrection, in light of women’s experiences of shame and defectiveness. Arguing that some traditional “atonement theories” fail to promote healing, Rigby presents “the doctrine of the bodily resurrection.”  Eboni Marshall Turman studies body as a theological problem, with particular attention to the negative perception and thus treatment of black women’s bodies, in their historical subjection to white supremacy and male patriarchy. Marshall Turman challenges this misconception and looks to the Chalcedonian Definition of Faith for an understanding of the body of Jesus Christ.

From her U.S. Latina perspective, Theresa Yugar examines relations, diversity, pluralism, corporeality, lo cotidiano (daily lived experiences) and the humanization of all persons as a starting point for developing a liberating ecclesiological trajectory. Yugar upholds the U.S. Latino wisdom of an intercorporeal theology in which to be human and Latino is to live in an interrelated, relational, pluralistic, vibrant, and diverse global world.  Finally, Joy Ann McDougall brings to the fore once more the transnational commitment which informed Brubaker’s opening chapter. Her North Atlantic feminist and Asian intercultural theology attempts to forge a different kind of relationship between white Euro-American feminist theology and Korean feminist theology.

All the chapters within this book provoked new ways of thinking and new ways of reimagining. Collectively, their work urges us to reexamine our ways, our traditions, and our habits so that we see the world from a new perspective.  We need to stand in solidarity with women around the globe. As women from different walks of life we need to be in solidarity with each other. Belonging to different communities of women, we recognize that our battles may be similar but they also grow from within the context of our particular communities.

As we share stories, there is a life-giving aspect to this process that is uplifting, heartwarming, empowering, dynamic, enlightening, enchanting, life-giving, transformative, and energizing. It lifts us up as we recognize the pain of our own stories in each other’s stories. In that way, we become whole, bursting with energy, Chi, and Eros. As we reimagine theology, certain steps are required from us. Out of the pain of leaving comfortable ideas behind, as we recognize our solidarity with each other, we walk hand in hand to dismantle the powers of injustice, which run deep in our societies. We join together in reimagining how to understand church doctrine for a future that is more just, welcoming, and embracing of all people, uncategorized by gender, class, race, or geography.

Grace Ji-Sun Kim is a Visiting Researcher at Georgetown University and an ordained minister of word and sacrament within the PC (USA) denomination.  She received her M.Div. from Knox College (University of Toronto) and her Ph.D. from the University of Toronto. Kim is the author of 5 books, Reimagining with Christian Doctrines co-edited with Jenny Daggers (Palgrave), Contemplations from the Heart  (Wipf & Stock, forthcoming), Colonialism, Han and the Transformative Power (Palgrave Macmillan),  The Holy Spirit, Chi and the Other:  A Model of Global and Intercultural Pneumatology (Palgrave Macmillan) and  The Grace of Sophia: A Korean North American Women’s Christology (Pilgrim Press).  She is a co-editor with Dr. Joseph Cheah for the Palgrave Macmillan Book Series, “Asian Christianity in Diaspora.” Kim is a much sought after lecturer and has given papers/lectures throughout the United States and in Korea, Myanmar, Spain, Brazil, Switzerland and Canada.

Categories: Feminist Theology

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5 replies


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