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, Doctrine of God, and Asian Philosophies and Religions in Dialogue. His research interests include: Intercultural Hermeneutics; Korean-American Theologies of 'Han' and the Sinned-Against; Edward Schillebeeckx; Theologies of Race and Racialization; Roman Catholic Soteriology. 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


Fall 2015 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 2015 Courses:

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

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

Religious Studies 130B: Intro to Religious Studies (World Religions)
Tuesday/Thursday: 1:45pm to 3:15pm

Religious Studies 435A: Doctrine of God
Monday/Wednesday: 1:45pm to 3:15pm

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


Papers, Publications, and Helpful Links


Salvation for the Sinned-Against: ‘Han’ and Schillebeeckx in Intercultural Dialogue (Eugene, OR: Pickwick 2015.)

The Han of the Sinned-Against: A Global Sensus Fidei in the Pope Francis Era.
–New Theology Review Vol 27, No 2 (March 2015): 38-46

‘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

“Intercultural Hermeneutics and Extending Schillebeeckx’s Soteriological Discourse: From Han to Mystical-Political Praxis.” In “Grace, Governance and Globalization: Theology and Public Life” edited by Lieven Boeve, Stephan van Erp, and Martin Poulsom. (Bloomsbury) Forthcoming 2016.


“A Child Shall Lead Them: Martin Luther King Jr, Young People, and the Movement, by Rufus Burrow. Theological Studies. Forthcoming 2015.

“Hallowed Be Thy Name: The Sanctification of All in the Soteriology of P.T. Forsyth, by Jason Goroncy. Horizons. Forthcoming 2015.

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, Vol 27, no 1 (September 2014): 84-85

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)


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 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


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


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

The Perpetrator is Dead–Now What?



In Avis Clendenen’s book on forgiveness, she notes that the doctrine of purgatory is becoming more important.  This is because so much trauma is left unresolved in this life.  The Christian God, as we see in Jesus, is a healer of wounds and a reconciler of broken and violated relationships.  So there must be a place where confrontation, reparation, atonement, forgiveness, and new creation are possible.  Especially when a perpetrator is dead yet his victims live on.  Or at least try to.  Otherwise, trauma has the final word and our claim that God is just and merciful is a lie.

In my own extended family there is deep unresolved trauma.  An elder family member violated his children and grandchildren sexually, emotionally, physically, and spiritually.  One son committed suicide with a gun, another with the bottle.  Both daughters were deeply scarred.  One has a diagnosed mental illness and spiritual hardships, the other is mentally ill, but chooses to function erratically, without diagnosis or care, while finding some solace in the Church.  This man also sexually abused his grandchildren, solicited them to other men, and dominated their minds and bodies.

The elderly man died.  While dying, perhaps he asked for forgiveness.  Perhaps not.  For him, it was more about ensuring his own salvation than truly repenting for the healing and well-being of his victims.  He took an easy way out.  He no longer had to deal with his guilt and the consequences of his actions.  Like in many families, this cycle of violence remained hidden.  Not only to the world, the law, and to others, but even to the waking consciousness of his victims.

The perpetrator is dead.  He is gone and has left generations of human wreckage as his legacy.

So now what? Can a dead man be confronted by his victims?  Not in this life.  At least not through any means I know.

Where is justice and healing for his victims?  Most cannot wait for the next life for this.  Their wounds are infected and need attention now.  And our faith declares that God always begins with the victim.

Where, then, is God’s salvation for the “sinned-against”?  Does God truly bind wounds and create new life out of human wreckage? How so when the perpetrator is long dead and not coming back to stand trial?

I hope to explore this topic in the future.  The problem of God’s presence among us and innocent human suffering.  Either here, in an article, a book, or essay.  It is too urgent to ignore.

Denying Jesus at McDonalds


I’m at the dealership for an oil change.  My car has a lot of miles so I am not surprised that it needs some work.  I have a few hours to kill.  I’m hungry and decide to walk up the street to a local McDonalds.  I just missed the cut off time for breakfast so I decide to order a Big Mac meal.  At 10:45am.  My arteries already are worried.

As I wait, a person behind me who I hadn’t noticed mumbles, “Excuse me, sir.  Can you buy me something to eat?”  I turn around and meet an older woman who has seen better days.  I think for a moment, wanting to refuse, but politely ask her what she would like to eat.  “A Big Mac and Coke.”  I nod, return to the counter, and order her meal.  The worker hands me my meal and I give her the receipt with her order number.  I smile half-heartedly and walk to a booth to eat.  I am surprised to find her following and about to sit down with me.  I think that she wants my meal so I tell her that her order is not ready and she will have to pick it up at the counter.  She says “OK” and goes to pick it up.  I pull out my notebook and papers and place them on the table to show that I don’t wish to be bothered further.  She sits elsewhere.  I know that she will be asking me for bus fare soon.  She does, I decline.  I don’t usually carry cash or coins.  I finish my meal, look out the window for awhile, and eventually leave without saying another word to her.

I already know that I have denied Christ.  I bought her a meal but did not respect her humanity.  I did not treat her as a woman, made in God’s image, who might be desiring a small human connection.  Yes, she can tell that I’m an easy target.   If she’s savvy,  she will probably tell me about her situation, bring out my pity, and then ask for more than food and bus fare.  That’s what I would do if I were her.  One must survive.

But that shouldn’t matter.  I don’t know what she would’ve said.  I didn’t want to know.  I just wanted to be left alone to gobble down my Big Mac meal.  I didn’t want to be inconvenienced by anyone, let alone her.

That’s how I denied Christ at McDonalds.

“If we endure, we will also reign with [Her]; If we deny [Her], [She] also will deny us.” 2 Tim 2:12


Theology and “Black Lives Matter”


In light of the protests and riots in Baltimore, just a thought for today:

“The question for the theologian is therefore whether a coming, and approach (not
the coming) of the kingdom of God can be seen in this particular human action.”  (Edward Schillebeeckx, O.P. God Among Us: The Gospel Proclaimed, 157)

Black lives matter

For the Black Lives Matter movement, the answer is YES.

Thinking about God on the picket line

BP Strike 1


Dorothy Day wrote: “Let us be honest, let us say that fundamentally, the stand we are taking is not on the ground of wages and hours and conditions of labor, but on the fundamental truth that men [sic] should not be treated as chattels, but as human beings, as ‘temples of the Holy Ghost.’  When Christ took on our human nature, when He became man, He dignified and ennobled human nature.  He said, ‘The Kingdom of Heaven is within you…’ 


BP Strike 7


“…When men are striking, they are following an impulse, often blind, often uninformed, but a good impulse–one could say even an inspiration of the Holy Spirit.  They are trying to uphold their right to be treated not as slaves but as men… 



BP Strike 12


“…They are fighting for a share in management, for their right to be considered partners in the enterprise in which they are engaged.  They are fighting against the idea of their labor as a commodity, to be bought and sold” (Our Stand on Strikes, The Catholic Worker, July 1936).


BP Strike 4

CCSJ Students Support Striking Refinery Workers

My Social Justice Class decided to support the Whiting Refinery’s striking oil workers.  Very proud of them.  Theological Reflection forthcoming.



Strike 3



Strike 6





Thoughts on the Trinity


Another important topic my Doctrine of God class looks at, not surprisingly, is the Trinity.  This has gotten me thinking again.  And, again no surprise, I am re-posting an article I wrote back in 2007.  I think it has merit to it and may be helpful.



Who’s afraid of the Trinity?

The Trinity is strange.If you’re not tracking, the Trinity I’m referring to is the central Christian teaching about the God of Jesus Christ. And even churchgoers, clergy and theologians can be rusty on this topic.

Because the Trinity is strange. And it’s one of the most overlooked of the central teachings of our faith. As the famous 20th century theologian Karl Rahner once remarked, if we woke up tomorrow morning and the newspapers informed us that the doctrine of the Trinity had proven to be a false teaching, there wouldn’t be much protest. Nor would much be altered in the way people understand their faith.

After all, this is a doctrine that most believe is only to be contemplated by the highly educated of the church and academy. Or at least those with way too much time on their hands to worry about real problems like paying rent and sending their kids to school.

But that’s not quite true. This doctrine is important and is not primarily for the over-educated or the over-leisured. Truly, this is one of our fundamental images of God. It’s at the heart of our faith. And, as such, it shapes the way that we view everything else. Because, like it or not, our images of God matter. They mold, question and legitimate what we believe about ourselves, each other and our world.

Now the Mystery of the Trinity has been the subject of entire books, not to mention some of the major councils of Christian history. So it is almost impossible to do it justice in the span of a 900-word column. But it’s a doctrine of enough importance to try to scratch the surface.

The heart of the doctrine of the Trinity isn’t the question “how can God be both one and three?” After all, we’re not doing math here. And it’s not a question of a triangle vs. a shamrock.

Instead, the teaching on the Trinity helps us to understand who God is and who God is not. Even though it’s often easier to agree about who God is not, there is one thing about who God is that many Christians are beginning to embrace: Our one God is a God-in-community.

That sounds simple enough. Maybe a little too simple. But when understood properly in our own context here in the United States, that’s a radical statement. Because we in the U.S. tend to glorify the individual. Just like there’s one God, there’s one individual who is the master of his or her own life.

But the doctrine of the Trinity challenges this a bit. The Trinity reminds us that even within the One God there are radical relationships of egalitarian, self-sacrificial love. The Father, Son and Spirit (or Creator, Redeemer and Sustainer, if you prefer) are “persons” of the one God who are tied to one another for all eternity as One.

And as we think about this, we must remember that all of our speech is analogy. For God isn’t literally like any of this. But because of God’s free-choosing to self-reveal in human history, we can humbly start to stutter these basic ideas. And the basic starting point for understanding the Trinity today is being amazed that the One Living God is also a Communitarian God. That is, God in God’s self is a community in relationship.

This gives us an image of the Trinity that is concrete and biblically sound: a divine community of radical equality and love. As theologian Catherine Mowry LaCugna has argued, “Indeed, Trinitarian doctrine articulates a vision of God in which there is neither hierarchy nor inequality, only relationships based on love, mutuality, self-giving and self-receiving, freedom and communion.”

Or, as theologian Elizabeth Johnson describes it in terms of experiencing God: “There is a sense in which we have to be touched first by a love that is not hostile (the “third” person), before we are moved to inquire after a definitive historical manifestation of this love (the “second” person), or point from there toward the mystery of the primordial source of all (the “first” person).”

The fact that our God is One yet also exists as a community reminds us yet again that we can’t be Christians by ourselves. For there is no “individual” Christianity. Which means that even though our own personal relationships with the God of Jesus Christ are important, our faith is about “We” the people of God more than “I” the disciple of Christ. Obviously, a Christian life requires both. But if one must be stressed over the other, it’s the communal over the individual.

Now this way of discussing the Trinity is more inductive than deductive. That is, it’s more spiritual than mathematical. So we understand a tiny bit more by living into God’s call, and by doing so we become more aware of how we should act.

Thinking about the doctrine in this way invites others to enter into this Trinitarian Mystery. It teaches us that we can never master the divine but we can enter into a relationship with the divine. We are humbled by a loving God who self-reveals as a beautiful Trinity who burns for life, justice and peace.

So maybe it’s strange. But life is strange. And the Trinity can remind us that God loves us and that God asks us to give life to others.

And it reminds us that God is God and we are not. Now that’s a strange idea.

Why Christian Theology Needs Feminism



This semester, I am teaching a course on the doctrine of God.  This week, we were talking about sexism, female images, and how we speak of the god of Jesus Christ and had great discussions.  This motivated me to post this short column I wrote way back in 2007:

Why feminist theology?

Christian theology is many things. But there is one thing it is not: narrow.

After all, the God of Jesus Christ to whom we orient our entire world is utterly beyond us. God is infinitely other and awe-inspiring. Which means that even though we affirm that we have received fragments of revelation, God’s transcendence should never be underestimated.

So there’s a lot of room to move when we try to speak of God. And even theologians make mistakes. But sometimes these mistakes aren’t mere naïve errors. Sometimes they are reflections of our own sinfulness. In other words, sometimes our mistakes are more insidious, even if they’re unintentional. And this embedded sin in our theology then enables us to wallow in this shared sinfulness.

It hurts to say it, but sometimes this is how we create idols. And one of the most enduring of all of our theological idols comes from the sin of sexism.

One of the most obvious symptoms of this is our exclusively male language for God. This claim shouldn’t be controversial because Catholics and the major Christian denominations all agree that God in God’s self is neither male nor female; God is beyond gender. Yet, because of our need to talk about God, we can respectfully use analogies to do this. One of these valid analogies is calling God “Him” or “He,” since humans are made in God’s image.

But the problem is that we’ve turned this one analogy into the only analogy. At least when it comes to gender. So we can only speak about God in male terms. And that’s projecting a human limit onto a transcendent God.

That’s how we create an idol. And this idol is a symptom of the sin of sexism. Not in the sense of explicitly hating women, but more in the sense of making them invisible. And this is problematic because sexism and its costs are real. And some statistics, although now a decade old, illustrate the reality of this sin.

According to a U.N. report, women make up just a bit more than 50 percent of the world’s population. But they account for 70 percent of the impoverished and two-thirds of the illiterate. Correspondingly, women earn only 5 percent to 10 percent of the world’s wages and own less than 1 percent of the world’s property. But women do two-thirds of the world’s paid and unpaid labor. If that weren’t enough, every 15 seconds a woman is beaten, every 5 minutes a woman is raped, and more than a third of all women are physically abused by their partners during a pregnancy.

All of that should make us nauseated. Because all of us have mothers, sisters, wives, daughters and female friends. And if you want to know my response, I defer to theologian Elizabeth Johnson. In her memorable way of putting it, “In my judgment, anyone who would underestimate the wrongs occasioned by sexist prejudice deserves the classic rebuke that Anselm gave to his questioner Boso: nondum considerasti quanti ponderis sit peccatum, ‘you have not yet weighed the gravity of sin.'”

So the sin of sexism is real. And so are its consequences. And its symptoms have colored many aspects of Christian life for too long. We in the 21st century didn’t create it. But we sustain it. And that gives good reason for theologian Anne Clifford’s goal of feminism-influenced theology: ” … to end oppression, discrimination, and violence directed to women and to acquire full equality and human dignity for every woman.”

In Catholic terms, feminist theology is a kind of an “aggiornamento” of traditional theology. It’s a breath of the Spirit that is enlivening the Church. And it’s re-creating us into a more God-centered people. It may be but one method of doing theology. But it has called Christians back to the basic challenge of the witness of Jesus Christ.


You see, feminist theology isn’t about hating men. It’s not about worshiping a victim mentality. And it’s not about hating the Church. It’s about recovering long suppressed voices and re-integrating them as equally authoritative into our attempts to talk about God. It’s about empowering women to serve as ministers and leaders. And it’s about opposing evil and building up the Church. Which means uncovering the sin of sexism among us and struggling against it for the good of humankind everywhere.

Feminist theology is about creating more adequate ways to speak of God and to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ to a broken world. All of this while discerning how theology should influence how we live while calling our sinful practices into question.

Now we should hope for the day when there won’t be a separate “feminist” theology. That’s the day when feminist theology will be so thoroughly integrated into Christianity that it will just be part of the normal course of “Christian” theology. But we’re not quite there yet.

So get used to it. Feminist theology is here to stay. We should be thankful for the path to God that feminist theologians show us. And we should accept their call to repent and return to the God of Jesus Christ.

My book has arrived!


This is indeed a shameless self-promotion.  But my book has been published by Pickwick (Wipf & Stock) and can be purchased for about $22 through their website:

It should be available on in March.

I hope to return to blogging soon.  In the meantime, have a happy early 2015!

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


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…



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Phone: 219 - 473 - 4353

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