Professor Considine
About Me
Dr. Considine is Assistant Professor of Religious Studies. He received a Ph.D. in Theology from Loyola University Chicago, Master’s degree in Theology from the Catholic Theological Union, and a Bachelor’s degree in English from Vanderbilt University. He teaches Social Justice, Introduction to Religious Studies, History of Christianity, and Asian Philosophies and Religions in Dialogue. He previously was employed by Loyola University Chicago, the Northwestern University’s Civic Education Project, the Center for the Study of Religious Life, The Atlantic Street Center, and AmeriCorps VISTA. Dr. Considine is married and they have two little boys. CCSJ welcomes Dr. Considine as a new faculty member.
Educational Background
Ph.D. Theology, Loyola University Chicago; M.A. Theology, Catholic Theological Union; B.A. English, Vanderbilt University.

Calumet College of St. Joseph Homepage

Courses

Fall 2014 Courses:

Religious Studies 330A: Christian History I
Subtitle: Jesus of Nazareth: Enemy of the State? The Church: Enemy of Jesus?
Tuesday/Thursday — 10:15am to 11:45am

Religious Studies 110A: Social Justice
Monday/Wednesday— 12pm to 1:30pm

Religious Studies 110F: Social Justice
Monday/Wednesday — 1:45pm to 3:15pm

Religious Studies 110H: Social Justice
Monday/Wednesday — 10:15am to 11:45am


Spring 2014 Courses:

Religious Studies 110A: Social Justice
Monday/Wednesday— 12pm to 1:30pm in Room 264

Religious Studies 110C: Social Justice
Tuesday/Thursday — 10:15am to 11:45am, Rm 264

Religious Studies 130A: Introduction to Religious Studies
Monday/Wednesday — 1:45pm to 3:15pm, Rm 300

Religious Studies 496A: Asian Philosophies and Religions in Dialogue
Tuesday/Thursday— 12pm to 1:30pm, Grutka Room


Fall 2013 Course:

Religious Studies 110B: Social Justice
Tuesday/Thursday — 12pm to 1:30pm in Room 264

Religious Studies 110D: Social Justice
Tuesday/Thursday — 10:15am to 11:45am in Room 264

Religious Studies 110F: Social Justice
Monday/Wednesday — 1:45pm to 3:15pm in Room 264

Religious Studies 110H: Social Justice
Monday/Wednesday — 10:15am to 11:45am in Room 264

Religious Studies 130SA: Introduction to Religious Studies
Tuesday — 6pm to 10pm in Room 271

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Papers, Publications, and Helpful Links

ARTICLES, ESSAYS, & BOOK REVIEWS

BOOKS:
Working Title: “Salvation for the Sinned-Against: ‘Han’ and Schillebeeckx in Intercultural Dialogue” (Pickwick/Wipf and Stock). Forthcoming.

ARTICLES:
‘Making Possible what is Necessary for Human Salvation’: Edward Schillebeeeckx’s Political Holiness as Response to the ‘Sinned-Against’” –Tijdschrift voor Theologie (online).

Kim Chi-Ha’s ‘Han’ Anthropology and its Challenge to Catholic Thought –Horizons 41, no. 1 (June 2014): 49-73.

Han and Salvation for the Sinned Against –New Theology Review Vol 26 no 1 (2013) p 87-89

A Collective Black Liberation in the Face of Honorary White Racism: A Growing Edge for U.S. Black Liberation Theologies –Black Theology: An International Journal Vol 8 no 3 (2010) p 286-306

BOOK REVIEWS:

We Are Who We Think We Were: Christian History and Christian Ethics, by Aaron D. Conley.–Journal of Lutheran Ethics (July /August2014)

Colonialism, Han, and the Transformative Spirit, by Grace Ji-Sun Kim–New Theology Review (forthcoming).

Shorter Notice: ‘Hope Sings, So Beautiful: Graced Encounters Across the Color Line’, by Christopher Pramuk–Theological Studies Vol 75, No 1: 217-218.

Many Colors: Cultural intelligence for a Changing Church, by Soong Chan Rah–Journal of Lutheran Ethics (March 2014)

A Protestant Theology of Passion: Korean Minjung Theology Revisited, by Volker Kuster–Journal of Lutheran Ethics Vol 13 Is 8 (Dec 2013)

Triune Atonement, by Andrew Sung Park–Journal of Lutheran Ethics Vol 13 Is 3 (May-June 2013)

SELECTED CONFERENCE PAPERS AVAILABLE ONLINE

Creating a Political Mysticism through J.B. Metz and Sudhir Venkatesh

The Human Person as Spiritual–Theological Anthropology of Edward Schillebeeckx

Is the Future Mestizo and Mulatto

Sociological Challenge to White Catholic Theologians Engaging Racism

SHORT ESSAYS FOR MAGAZINES AND WEBSITES

Short Articles in U.S. Catholic Magazine

Blog posts for U.S. Catholic Magazine

Online Essays written from 2005-2008 on Religion and Society

White Contrast Experience–Short Essay on Theology and Racism

WEBLINKS OF INTEREST

Declaration of Conscience by Kim Chi Ha –Bulletin of Concerned Asian Scholars Vol 9, no 2 (1977)

Martin Luther King Papers Project

Edward Schillebeeckx Foundation

Diocese of Gary

NWI Catholic Newspaper Online

Blog

WHEN GOD HAPPENS–A Blog of Religion, Society, Politics, and Art.

Thinking about Ferguson–A White Man’s Christian “Contrast Experience”

A teacher of mine once said: the right question to ask is not “who am I?”  The right question to ask is “to whom do I belong?”  As Christians, this is the most important question we can ask.  Not only in our relationship to God, Christ, and the Church but also to others, both individually and collectively.

This also is a good way for white Christians to think about race, racism, and white privilege.  To whom do we belong?  To a fictional “white race” or a dominating “white culture”?  To some extent, yes.  But, in the end, we do not belong there.

History is a good place to start.  “Race” is not the work of the Creator.  It was the work of Western Europeans as they voyaged to find trade routes and enrich their home kingdoms.  As they did, they had to find a way to understand the relation of their “Euro-Christian” civilization to the rest of the world. What emerged gradually was the theory of the “races.”  The “white race” was considered the superior one and was Christian and Western-European.  Others, such as “mongloid” and “negroid” occupied various places of subordination within a hierarchy that had whites on top.  Each “race” had innate characteristics that were inferior to those of the “white” race, but also in relation to each other.  The non-white “races” had to be conquered and assimilated into Euro-white Christian civilization for their own good and salvation.

This is the roots of “race” as a way of understanding the human person.  It reinforced the power structures that had been created by colonization and provided the conquerors a justification for their actions.  Its power structure has changed, but remains within the fabric of society. In short, the historical construction of “race” was a new creation that reinforced Euro-white Christians in positions of wealth and power.

Obviously, “race” has no biological basis.  But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t matter.  It matters much more than most whites think it does.  Being born into a white social location confers advantages that mostly are not offered to those born in a different racialized location.  For example, an African-American child from Garfield Park is not likely to have the same life options and possibilities as a white, Scandinavian-descended child from Andersonville.  It is not the only factor.  But it is an important one.  Possessing a white social location, whether we like it or not, often gives access to things like networks for job-hunting, loans for purchasing homes, and safe neighborhoods and schools.

Since many, if not most, white people are blind to the on-going realities of racism and white privilege, there is a process of awakening that must occur.  One way to understand this is as a “contrast experience.”  This is when you are confronted with a grave injustice or evil and cannot look away.  Its negativity and sinfulness slap you in the face. This experience of negativity contrasts radically with our understanding of God as pure life and positivity—that is, the One who possesses and wields the creative power of life, redemption, and re-creation of all humanity. In response to this contrast, we protest “this should not be!”

This is a moment of revelation and conversion.  God’s will to life becomes clear along with God’s preferential option for the poor, oppressed and downtrodden.  God’s presence is always among us, through the Spirit of Jesus Christ, and calls us to work to eradicate all that causes this unjust suffering.  And to realize our own location within the structural sin, even if we ourselves did not create it.

For those of us who have been racialized as “white,” this contrast experience with racism and white privilege is an uncomfortable, strange, and even painful process.  This is why it is an ongoing conversion experience and a point of contact with God.  God meets us where we are and enables us to work for the good of the victims and the oppressed, even as the Holy One continues to redeem those who are in positions of power, whether or not the power is wanted or explicitly used for harm.  For power and privilege are not bad things in themselves.  They are neutral, yet often infected by social and personal sin.  So, we offer the benefits of white privilege to the Holy One, through the community called church that is Christ’s body.  And to trust in God’s Spirit, “For the one who calls you is faithful and he will do it” ( 1 Thess 5:24).

The fruit of the contrast experience may be as simple as this: own your social location and the history that you have inherited from your forebears, and whatever ambiguous power dynamics that go along with it, and bring it before Jesus the Christ. This contrast experience, awakening, and ongoing conversion is not a curse.  It is a hard blessing.  As I once heard preached, we often are like the gifts offered at the communion table.  God takes us, blesses us, breaks us, and gives us to the world.  The contrast experience is the blessing of a careful breaking-down of an old identity for the purposes of creating a new, more Christ-like one.  Only God knows what that will be.  But it will be one that can fully hear the cries of our brothers and sisters who have been racialized as inferior, a process that has stripped away their dignity and humanity.

Images of Black Jesus

A new, God-given identity will open our eyes to the structural sin of racism and the infection of sin that creates white privilege.  But this will also remind us that “white” is not an identity.  It is something that shapes us and has real meaning and consequences, often for our own benefit and for the detriment of non-whites.  Still, it is a social location that has been thrust upon us.  We must own it.  But we must also remember that identity lies in Christ and in the traditions that have been passed on by our forebears (even as their best efforts often were subverted to maintain “whiteness.”)

So the question remains: not “who am I?” but “to whom do I belong?”  That is the question that whites (and all of us) have to answer before God, Christ, the church, and the racially oppressed within our communities.  And it has to be lived.  So, to whom do you belong?

 

 

Thinking about Ferguson and Unconcious Racial Bias

Photo

Like many people, I have had the strife in Ferguson very much on my mind, heart, and soul.  Many people have written much more insightfully about it than I can (like Leonard Pitts, Jr and an acquaintance,  Pastor David Swanson).

What I haven’t heard spoken about is the role that unconscious racial bias plays in situations like the killing of 18 year old Michael Brown by police officer Darren Wilson.  What I’m going to do, is re-post pieces of a facebook discussion I’ve been having about this.  Yes, you can have constructive conversations on social media.  So here are snippets of that conversation.  These are only my words so that I don’t infringe upon the anonymity of my conversation partners.  And I hope to elaborate upon this soon.

“…I don’t think that very many people are asserting that Michael Brown was killed just because he was black. I don’t think that too many people see this as an explicit situation where Wilson is a “Klan member” who is just looking for a black man to shoot. I think it’s more complex. When someone acts in fear, their unconscious bias can easily take over. We are all socialized into a racialized society and have stereotypes and unconscious prejudice lurking in the dark recesses of our minds. when we act on instinct, oftentimes these fears and unconscious demons direct our actions. So, the suspicion is that this was another case of someone–usually white– feeling threatened by a big, scary, black man and using lethal force (like the autopsy doctor pointed out–six shots from long range? when Brown was unarmed? really?) when one can rightly question whether or not such force could possibly have been justified. One example comes to mind that might help illustrate the point. When in 2012, a white man, James Holmes, shot up a movie theater, killing 12 and wounding at least 58, and who was a serious threat to police and everyone else, he was taken alive. Brown, an unarmed black man (not to mention the man with the toy rifle in Walmart in Ohio and many others) ends up dead, killed by white police officers. If it’s a pattern, and it is, there is something lurking beneath the surface. Many people see that something as unconscious racism…”

“…to my knowledge there are very few people who are claiming that Wilson is a white racist, evil cop. I highly doubt he is a Klan member, to exaggerate a bit. But that doesn’t mean that race is not involved here. It’s the pattern of white police killing black men mixed with the documented reality of unconscious bias/prejudice mixed with what Larry Wilmore calls in the clip, “the benefit of the doubt.” Yes, he’s a comedian but he’s also a good satirist who illustrates the racial dynamics involved better than most others. And split second decisions, especially if in a situation in which fear is felt, rationality often goes out the window…”

“… about unconscious racial bias. This is not calling someone a “racist” in the sense of a moral judgement on that person’s heart and soul. Especially since many white people know at least one person who is an explicit racist, it helps to clarify this. Unconscious racism is a description of reality. We don’t choose to be unconsciously racist, it just happens to us. It’s so saturated in the culture that from a young age our minds are influenced and our souls marred by this evil. For example, i do not choose nor want to have racist thoughts. But I do and the seed was placed in me against my own choosing and before i was able to form and control rational thinking. I can point you to a study that documents how very young children (of all races) who are too young to have formed conscious opinions demonstrate preference in favor of all things white and against all things black. This seed was planted in me not by explicitly racist people but just by the fact that racism is saturated into the air we breathe. As Faulkner said, “The past is never dead. It’s not even past.” I notice this especially in prayer and meditation when my mind just works and throw up what it throws up with little direction. I can go more into detail (as you can tell, unconscious bias and racism is a huge concern of mine) …And, just for the record, it is not about me calling a white person a “racist” as an explicit choice and intentional way of living. we all know that these people exist and that most white people are not them. However, I include myself (and most white folks, as well as people of color but for a different reason) as under the influence of an evil called “unconscious racial bias.”  It’s similar to when king started to wonder, toward the end of his life, if  all white people are unconscious racists…

 

Publication–Horizons, 41.1 (June 2014): 49-73

 

kim chi ha images

This is a shameless self-promotion.  I hope to keep these few and far between.  But I needed to share.  Take a look if you wish.

 

“Kim Chi-Ha’s ‘Han’ Anthropology and its Challenge to Catholic Thought.”  Kim Chi Ha and Han–Horizons 41

 

images

 

 

Inequality breeds social evil

class images

“Inequality is the root of social evil“-Pope Francis.

Income inequality in the U.S. is now “probably higher than in any other society at any time in the past, anywhere in the world.”–Economist Thomas Piketty, quoted in the recent issue of Commonweal Magazine.

To put it mildly, this is worrisome.  It might be religious folks who have to do something about this.

But, what can we do?  I am teaching a summer session of Social Justice and I hope to get my students thinking about this question.  On a practical level.  In the meantime, a theological thought: we Christians believe in a God who loves and values all human beings.  This means God loves the 1% and the 99%.  Really.

Catholics, however, also believe that God expresses a “preferential option for the poor.”  That is, God’s first love and first saving actions are directed towards those who are denigrated, spat upon, and who many of us deem “worthy” and “unworthy” poor.  They  are the ones most dear to God’s heart.  So, what does it mean that God “loves” the wealthy, powerful, and privileged?  Especially when in Luke’s Gospel portrays Jesus as saying “Woe to you who are rich…” (Luke 6:24)?  I have no answer to this question.  But just to spitball: maybe God’s love for the wealthy 1% is experienced differently than God’s love for the 99%.  In a similar way to how MLK talked about how God’s love functions differently for and is experienced differently by oppressed and oppressors.

One example comes to mind.  In Graham Greene’s The Power and the Glory, the Whiskey Priest offers an interesting view on God’s love: “‘Oh…that’s another thing altogether–God is love.  I don’t say the heart doesn’t feel a taste of it, but what a taste.  The smallest glass of love mixed with a pint pot of ditch water.  We wouldn’t recognize that love.  It might even look like hate.  It would be enough to scare us–God’s love.  it set fire to the bush in the desert, didn’t it, and smashed open graves and set the dead to walking in the dark.  Oh, a man like me would run a mile to get away of he felt that love around’” (Penguin Classics, 199-200).

Just thinking.

wwjd

Saints are enemies of the state…or they should be

dday-filmOftentimes we think that Christians are polite people who don’t cause any trouble.  This is not true.  From Jesus of Nazareth (executed by the Romans as a criminal) to Bartolome de Las Casas (fought against enslaving the First Peoples of the Americas) to Martin Luther King, Jr (assassinated when he became too radical in his fight for justice), many of the exemplars within this movement were “troublemakers” of some sort.

The same goes with American lay Catholic Dorothy Day.  I teach her life and writings in most of my classes so I will write about her much more this year.  To begin, here is an interesting juxtaposition of quotes.  The first from FBI director J. Edger Hoover who defamed Day and the second from Dorothy Day in one of her newspaper columns for The Catholic Worker about her vision.

J. Edger Hoover: “”Dorothy Day is a very erratic and irresponsible person. She has engaged in activities which strongly suggest that she is consciously or unconsciously being used by communist groups. From past experience with her it is obvious she maintains a very hostile and belligerent attitude toward the Bureau and makes every effort to castigate the FBI whenever she feels so inclined.”

Dorothy Day: “what we would like to do is change the world–make it a little simpler for people to feed, clothe, and shelter themselves as God intended them to do. And, to a certain extent, by fighting for better conditions, by crying out unceasingly for the rights of the workers, of the poor, of the destitute–the rights of the worthy and unworthy poor, in other words–we can to a certain extent change the world; we can work for the oasis, the little cell of joy and peace in a harried world.”

Interesting, don’t you think?

Dorothy_Day1

Social Justice…More than Equality

In my Social Justice classes, I spend the entire semester getting students to understand and assess different understandings of the term “social justice.”  By the end of the semester, they have to articulate and defend their definition.

One thing I have to get them to understand is that even though equality and justice are related there is a slight difference.  Equality is a more theological/philosophical claim about the intrinsic value of the human being.  All human beings are created in God’s image and carry the divine.  Thus, all human beings have equal intrinsic value.

Justice is different and adds a different understanding to the term equality.  Equality, as we usually discuss it, means sameness: everyone takes the same test, gets the same resource, etc.

tree test

Justice, however, critiques this idea of equality and often focuses on the privileging and underprivileging that precedes any discussion of equality.  For example, two students take the same 3rd grade reading test but one of them doesn’t even know the alphabet because his/her school has failed them.

equality justice

These two cartoons have been making their rounds on facebook and the internet.  They have been useful in helping my students to think about this.  So, I thought I’d post them.

 

 

A Jewish artist’s challenge to Christians

This work entitled, “The White Crucifixion” was painted in 1938 by Jewish artist Marc Chagall.  It hangs in the Art Institute of Chicago.  I have had my students view this painting for my Intro to Religious Studies class.  I think it challenges Christians (like myself, a Roman Catholic) to consider what role our elimination of Jesus’ Jewishness has played in the persistence of Anti-Semitic violence and hatred to this very day.  The fullness and complexity of what Chagall is trying to depict is beyond one interpretation.  But I view this as a contemporary challenge to combat the evil of Anti-Semitism.  In case you’re interested, the question I asked my students is below the painting.

 

chagall-the-white-crucifixion-1938

What is anti-Semitism? Historically, who has been the main perpetrator of violence against the Jewish people? In your opinion, why? How could this have been justified? In light of this, how do we respond to this injustice in the 21st century. 

Look at the painting, “The White Crucifixion,” (1938) by Jewish artist Marc Chagall.  Name three details that document aspects of Jewish life and/or history.  Why are they in the painting and what do they mean? 

Finally, what is your interpretation of what this painting is trying to convey?

Jesus wasn’t a Christian. He was Jewish

During Holy Week, let’s not forget this.  Jesus of Nazareth was not a Christian.  He was an observant Jew from the moment he was born until the moment he died.  This inconvenient fact might be a shock to some  “Christian” Anti-Semites like the murderer Frazier Glenn Miller in Kansas.  By his logic, a Christian would be the one crucifying Jesus right along with the Romans.

jewish jesus

“When God became human, healing humanity through his experience as a person who was wounded and hurt in many ways, God did not become a generic human being, a Roman, a Greek, or even an elite Judean Jew. He became a marginal, Galilean Jew, a village craftsman living with his family and neighbors in a village situated on the periphery of the political, intellectual, and religious powers of the world”–Fr. Virgilio Elizondo

Lord, have mercy on us all.

Cesar Chavez–”Creative Nonviolence”

chavez 2

 

I’ve found that the majority of my students have heard the name Cesar Chavez.  And they have no clue who this man was or what he wrote and taught.  The film biopic of Chavez’s life is probably meant to remedy this a bit.  (I have yet to see it).  But my hunch is that next year the majority of my students will still be clueless. So, I thought I’d post one of his short essays here.  It is called “Creative Nonviolence” and was originally published in The Catholic Worker in 1969.  It can most easily be found on page 64 in a book edited by Ilan Stavans, entitled Cesar Chavez: An Organizer’s Tale (Penguin Classics 2008).  Read it if you have a chance.  Hopefully I’m not breaking any copyright laws and can post a few more. 

 

Chavez Readings from handout__xid-4885907_1(1)(1)

Love is not enough

MLK-militant-speech-300x187

Dr.  Martin Luther King, Jr remains one of the most important religious, social, and political leaders in U.S. history.  But he also was a first class theologian who understands the relationship between justice and love.  Although he often is portrayed as an apostle of love for all humankind, which is true, we tend to soften or ignore his radical conception of justice that goes part and parcel with Christian love.  Among many of his speeches and writings, this is one of my favorites.  It is from an early speech where he shows the relationship between love and justice while placing the final emphasis on justice

“…in all of our doings, in all of our deliberations here this evening and all of the week and whilewhatever we do–we must keep God in the forefront.  Let us be Christian in all of our actions.  But I want to tell you this evening that it is not enough for us to talk about love, love is one of the pivotal points of the Christian faith. There is another side called justice. And justice is really love in calculation. Justice is love correcting that which revolts against love. 

The Almighty God himself is not only, not the God just standing out saying through Hosea, “I love you, Israel.” He’s also the God that stands up before the nations and said: “Be still and know that I’m God , that if you don’t obey me I will break the backbone of your power  and slap you out of the orbits of your international and national relationships.”  Standing beside love is always justice, and we are only using the tools of justice. Not only are we using the tools of persuasion, but we’ve come to see that we’ve got to use the tools of coercion…”

(“Address to the first Montgomery Improvement Association [MIA] Mass Meeting,” Dec. 5th, 1955)

Contact

Please don’t hesitate to contact me, my office hours are:
M/W – 12pm to 1:30pm AND 3:30pm to 4:30pm; T/TH – 2pm to 4:30pm; Friday by appointment

Email: kconsidine@ccsj.edu
Phone: 219 - 473 - 4353

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