Can "White" People Be Saved?: Triangulating Race, Theology, and Mission (Missiological Engagements Series)
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We are convinced that the current moment of demographic change, manifest concretely in the election of the first African American president in 2008 and 2012, represents a similar moment of rising White fear and backlash against what is perceived as an imminent loss of White social dominance.20 In other words, the open bigotry of “Trumpism” is not so much a disease that is resurrecting xenophobia’s dark and bitter past; rather, it is a symptom of the disease pathology of racism. Thus, evangelical fear of Larycia Hawkins and broad evangelical support for the present Republican ...more
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In 1788, the First Fleet transported not just convicts but also a new social system: a class society based on the accumulation of capital, the exploitation of wage labour, acquisitive individualism, hierarchy and inequality. In contrast, Aboriginal society was egalitarian.
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Religious ideology has been central to the maintenance and origins of racialization and whiteness embedded in the European project inasmuch as gradations in skin pigmentation coincide with religious, geographical, and cultural divisions that segment the world into colonizers and the colonized.29
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In this volume, the authors advance the current prevailing academic dialogue of race and whiteness beyond a mere focus on past ills of the seventeenth to twentieth centuries of European colonialism, toward a positive intercultural missiology. Though the essays do not hesitate to situate contemporary race relations in their proper historical context in terms of global and local social forces, the authors do not stop there or prioritize deconstructing, excusing, or simply explaining how the church, its orthodox theology, and its kingdom building missiology contributed to the abuses, racism, and ...more
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Over the years, theorists have debated the wisdom of defining racism in terms of the way it provides unequal access to social privilege or the levers of social power for those in the group at the top of the racial hierarchy.35 The authors in this volume who discuss the contours of racism all opt in favor of seeing privilege as the critical resource mediated in racist societies, defining racism as the ideology that operationalizes race in social institutions involving belief (whether conscious or unconsciously held) in the congenital superiority of one race over others, resulting in privilege ...more
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As one of our contributors notes, intriguingly, these goals can actually function as a way of perpetuating the racializing effects of inequalities embedded in society.38 Indeed, some accounts of postracialism are synonymous with colorblindness as a response to racism, a commonly held value among evangelicals that rejects attention to race in society as a way of eliminating racial discrimination. Yet, in calling for an end to racial categorizations without first recognizing and eradicating historical, persistent, and ongoing differentials between racial groups in terms of access to housing, ...more
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When the church preaches salvation of souls while matters of physical and social well-being are ceded to outside institutions such as government and dedicated charities, the result divides salvation into two separate spheres—physical and spiritual—that subvert the original multilayered concept exhibited in Peter’s explanation to the socioreligious authorities in Acts 4. This bifurcated ideology creates, nourishes, and maintains fertile soil for the whiteness project to prosper, and we maintain that this whiteness project (signified by our use of the phrase “White” People in the title) cannot ...more
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wherever racial categorizations are rooted in society, they function to render some peoples outside of the category of human. As one of our authors puts it: “Racialization is the process by which the marker between human and nonhuman is biologized.”46 As we collectively maintain herein, race, racism, and white supremacy together define a spiritual condition that shapes and orders our lives and worship, consciously and unconsciously, much more than many of us know.47 But these discourses are undertaken not simply for the purpose of indulging in navel gazing or intellectual gymnastics but for ...more
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Many people collapse Christianity and whiteness into one thing, loved or hated. They cannot see two things, two mutual interpenetrating realities, the one always performing itself inside the other. On the other hand, there are just as many people who do not see this as a deep problem or even as a problem. They have made whiteness an irreversible accident of history or even an attribute of creation. That whiteness is a problem remains an elusive point to get across because too many people have no idea what to do with such a concept. Beside bewilderment, the typical response I get to the idea ...more
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It is an ironic truth of Christian life that most people perform a faith, embody a faith, far more complex than they articulate. There is a vastness to our lives in faith that we cannot adequately capture with our words. The difficulty with racial existence, and with whiteness in particular, is that it has woven itself into that vastness, making seeing the fusion and seeing our way beyond the fusion very difficult work.
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To speak of whiteness is not to speak of particular people but of people caught up in a deformed building project aimed at bringing the world to its full maturity. What does maturity look like, maturity of mind and body, land and animal (use), landscape and building, family and government? Whiteness is a horrific answer to this question formed exactly at the site of Christian missions. So in this essay I want to explore whiteness as a deformed formation toward maturity, along the way to consider some of its affective (emotional) dimensions, and finally to suggest how we might begin to separate ...more
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The pedagogical goal of missionaries and others was not simply to bring New World peoples into the reality of salvation, but it was fundamental to that salvation to change their ways of seeing the world so that they too would see themselves rightly as centered selves who project meaning onto the world and who may bring nature to its full purpose and use. This crucial educational hope was to disabuse Native peoples of any idea that lands and animals, landscapes and seasons carried any communicative or animate density, and therefore any ethical or moral direction in how to live in the world. ...more
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The problem is not that things change. Things do change. We could even say things evolve. Nor is the problem the impulse to transform. Transformation is not inherently evil. The horror here is the colonialist’s denial of the voice and vision of peoples who inhabit a place, denial that defies the logic of life together in a place as the basic wisdom that should shape change and transformation. The horror here is the emergence of a form of creating that destroys creation. This is not the logic of breaking eggs to make omelets, recognizing that some destruction is always inherent in creation. ...more
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let me state it clearly. No one is born white. There is no white biology, but whiteness is real. Whiteness is a working, a forming toward a maturity that destroys. Whiteness is an invitation to a form of agency and a subjectivity that imagines life progressing toward what is in fact a diseased understanding of maturity, a maturity that invites us to evaluate the entire world by how far along it is toward this goal. Most people have a sense of what agency is—to be the source of one’s own actions and decisions and to claim immediate control over one’s body. Subjectivity is a more recent addition ...more
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It all comes back to the land. From the sixteenth century forward, as more and more land is seized, enclosed, and turned into private property, labor is fundamentally transformed—people are placed on a trajectory that is inescapable—you must see your own body as raw material just like the land. The body stood at the center of this powerful commodification of the New World, and no one escaped.
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Flourishing life was reserved for ownership.
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These three imagined transformations, from raw material to owner, from stranger to citizen, and from darkness to whiteness, formed at the site of hope for these Christian settlers who did not simply want to make the New World their world but wished to make them the way the world ought to be.
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We have to talk about whiteness in relation to affect and feeling because how whiteness feels is how whiteness thinks. Agency and subjectivity form in how we feel and think as one single reality of personhood. So the questioning of whiteness feels terrible in two ways to many people. First, it feels as if we are abandoning the goal of progress, and, second, it feels as if we have become obsessed with matters of identity and have lost a sense of common purpose.
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this is what Christian mission at its best was always aiming at—following Jesus into new places to form new life, life together. So am I advocating compelling people to live together across all the lines of formation that divide us and have habituated us to be comfortable with those divides? Yes, because I want to turn us from a formation that is yet compelling people to aim their lives toward a vision of maturity that is bound in death. I want to save us from becoming or being White people.
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The history of missionization to Indigenous peoples in the United States has been simultaneously the history of Indigenous genocide.
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critical race theorists have argued, raciality is not simply a result of unfortunate stereotypes from peoples of different cultural backgrounds but the fundamental logic by which certain peoples are placed outside the category of the human.1 Or to quote Ruth Wilson Gilmore: “Racism, specifically, is the state-sanctioned or extralegal production and exploitation of group-differentiated vulnerability to premature death.”2
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These understandings move us away from thinking about race as a noun in terms of set people groups such as African Americans, Latinos, Native peoples, Asian Americans, and so on to racialize as a verb that can impact different peoples across time and space. Racialization is a process by which the marker between human and nonhuman is biologized even as who gets racialized and the markers of racialization may change over time and space.
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Native peoples can only attain humanity by no longer being Native.
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The presumed inability of Native peoples to work thus rendered them in a perpetual state of childhood (childhood being marked by the period of life in which one cannot be a proper worker). The colonial project then consisted of forcing Native peoples to mature into adulthood through work as defined by capitalism. For instance, the Dawes Allotment Act, which divided indigenous lands into individual allotments, was deemed necessary because only through individual property ownership could Native peoples have a need to work.