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weddingchapHere is my latest article for the journal  Insights: the Faculty Journal of Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary, (2014)129:2: 19-22.   It is called “Disrupting Boundaries and Walls:  Spirit-Chi and Eros”.


Disrupting Boundaries and Walls: Spirit-Chi and Eros[1]

Grace Ji-Sun Kim


In our world, everyone is close enough to be our neighbor. Intermingling cultures and religious practices can raise problems as we seek to raise our children. In such a world, it becomes vitally important to love, welcome, and embrace the stranger who comes to live by us. Rather than building fences and walls, we must reflect on how to connect with different cultures and religions.

The Presence of Spirit

The Spirit, God’s presence in the world works actively through us in pursuit of justice. This Spirit transforms the world by transforming us. Many theologians and philosophers describe the Spirit as imminent and willful. The Spirit blows and sweeps through the earth. It will bring about change and new life.[2]

The Spirit is movement. The Spirit, who goes between, moves through the borders and boundaries of space and time.[3] The Spirit can move into the in-between spaces that marginalized people occupy. These are the hybrid spaces that marginalized peoples and foreign women are oftentimes relegated to. These hard to reach spaces can be obtained by the Spirit who can move into all places to bring healing and wholeness. As the Spirit moves into these spaces of marginalization, wonderful and great things can occur. Spirit can bring liberation, new life, empowerment, life-balances, and life abundant. The Spirit makes life beautiful and meaningful. The Spirit provides the sustenance and flourishing which provides wholeness. The Spirit is timeless, suffusing memory across past and future, sharing with others to bring meaning in our lives.


We Asian American women recognize the richness of our own religious, cultural, and historical heritage. We recognize that the Spirit is not a new concept but has always existed in our Asian identity. We closely identify our personal being with the amount of Spirit within us. We talk about how low or great our Spirit is on a daily basis. The word we use is Chi.

Chi is the Chinese word for “life energy”. Chi is the animating power that flows through all living things. A healthy person has more Chi than one who is ill. Health implies the Chi in our bodies is clear, like fresh tea or eucharistic wine, rather than turbid. Chi flows smoothly and clearly, like baptismal water, not lying stagnant, like death.

Chi is the life energy present in nature. Earth itself is moving, transforming, breathing, and alive with Chi. Modern scientists speak the same language as ancient poets when they call the Earth “Gaia,” a living being. When we appreciate the beauty of animals, fish, birds, flowers, trees, mountains, the deep ocean, and floating clouds, we are sensing their Chi and feeling an intuitive unity with them.[4] We feel that same Chi in ceremonies such as the Eucharist or the Asian tea ceremonies, which focus on ritual and blessed, simple ingredients.

++ for the rest of the article, please visit the Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary website.


[1] Editors’ Note: In popular contemporary usage, eros connotes carnal lust of the flesh, contrasted, for example, with spiritual love or agape. In ancient philosophical and theological usage, however, it does not connote this opposition (see, for example, the work of Plato, Gregory of Nyssa, and Thomas Aquinas). Similarly, many contemporary feminist and aesthetic theologians use the term to denote the fundamental visceral pull toward the Good.  Augustine observes “Our heart is restless until it rests in You” as a way of pointing to how humanity longs (with eros) for its true home in God.

[2] Grace Ji-Sun Kim, Colonialism, Han, and the Transformative Spirit (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013), 71.

[3] Sigurd Bergmann, “Invoking the Spirit amid Dangerous Environmental Change,” God, Creation and Climate Change (Minneapolis: Lutheran University Press, 2009), 173.

[4] Grace Ji-Sun Kim, The Holy Spirit, Chi, and the Other: A Model of Global and Intercultural Pneumatology (New York; Palgrave Macmillan, 2011), 13, 14.


[read also:  Reimagining with Christian Doctrines]


BN7A3104-MGrace Ji-Sun Kim is Visiting Researcher at Georgetown University.  She is the author of 6 books, Theological Reflections on “Gangnam Style” co-written with Joseph Cheah, Reimagining with Christian Doctrines co-edited with Jenny Daggers (Palgrave), Contemplations from the Heart (Wipf & Stock), Colonialism, Han and the Transformative Spirit (Palgrave Pivot), 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”.