I am so honored and excited to have my book, Embracing The Other on Syndicate.
The Symposium on Syndicate is introduced by Drs. Peter Heltzel and Kay Higuera Smith. Every week for the next four weeks, we will read a new scholar’s perspective on my book, Embracing the Other.
This week’s post is from Dr. Linda ThomasPlease feel free to respond and comment on Syndicate.
Embracing the Other: A Womanist Perspective
I come to the task of understanding, analyzing, and responding to Grace Ji-Sun Kim’s new book, Embracing the Other, from a hermeneutic of plurality. I work from my many contexts, and thus I consider myself a multidisciplinary scholar. I approach my response to Kim’s book first from my social location. I work as a black woman—but with the juxtaposition of being an African American Christian woman, ordained in the United Methodist Church and teaching at a Lutheran seminary in Chicago. I work necessarily from a place of tension and complexity, from a hermeneutic of plurality. I approach my work as a temporarily able-bodied, out-heterosexual, African American, ordained Christian theologian in the Womanist tradition. I am also an anthropologist.
With that background I begin my response by noting that I have always been perplexed and curious about the reason that in normative orthodox theology the Holy Spirit, which is coequal with “God the Father” and with “God the Son,” is the neglected and often overlooked “person” of the Holy Trinity. It is as though the Holy Spirit is the “step-child” of the Trinity. I make this claim for several reasons. First, the Holy Spirit is the lead “person” in the announcement of Jesus’ birth. Luke 1:26 recounts that God sent the angel Gabriel to tell Mary that she will give birth to a son whom she will name Jesus. There follows a significant dialogue between the angel and Mary. It is exceedingly important to note that few women in the Bible are named or given voice to speak. Mary is one of the few exceptions because not only is she named, but she has a voice and uses it, pointedly, to ask a question of Gabriel. This teenage girl in the vernacular says something like, “Come again, Gabriel. What did you say?” However, the text, Luke 1:35, records Mary boldly asking, “How can that be since I am a virgin?” In other words, this child who has completed puberty and is therefore most likely between the ages of 15–17—and therefore who knows a thing or two about how females get pregnant—asks with an incredulous voice, “How can I get pregnant? I have not had a sexual relationship with a man. I am a virgin!” Then Gabriel tells her that the Holy Spirit will impregnate her, saying, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be call the Son of God” (Luke 1:35).
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