I love this Amazon rating and review of my book, Invisible by Rev. Brian Fraser who is a minister at Brentwood Presbyterian Church, Burnaby, BC.
I hope you can all rate and or review it on Amazon. It always helps authors.
One of the most challenging dimensions of missioning with and through today’s church is the cultural impact of new means of connecting and communicating. New voices are being heard. New people are becoming visible. New relationships are being cultivated – or rejected.
This broader range of vocality and visibility changes our perception and practice of being church. It opens up new situations through which God is inspiring and instructing us to reformulate our understanding of how to be faithful, wise, and effective as ambassadors of God’s forgiving and reconciling love made most manifest in Jesus, the Christ. That’s what Canadian Presbyterians have discerned as the great affirmation of the core truth of the Gospel – God has made us ambassadors of God’s forgiving and reconciling love for the whole world.
When people who have previously gone unnoticed are seen and heard, they challenge and disrupt the ways we have practiced that calling. How, then, do we find the compassion that will lead us into a more comprehensive sense of the coherence of the Christian faith as we experience it practiced in Jesus, our triune Creator’s Christ? How do we find the courage to hear those voices with respect, especially when they criticize the ways we have been habituated into living together?
In Invisible, Grace Ji-Sun Kim takes us deep into the world of the invisible and the silenced. She is a reflective story teller, finding in her experience the slow but sure workings of her God who encourages her to find her visibility and vocality. She is also a prophetic presence in today’s church, bringing to her reading of the Gospel and to our calling to be its ambassadors a fresh vision of how the church and its contributors show up as the triune Creator’s companions in the care of all creation.
At the age of 5, Grace came to Canada with her family. They settled in London, ON. They were drawn into the warm embrace of a Korean Presbyterian Church in that city. Eventually, Grace felt called to ministry, studied at Knox College in Toronto, did doctoral work in the Toronto School of Theology, is an ordained minister of with the Presbyterian Church USA, and now teaches at Earlham School of Religion in Richmond, Indiana. She is a prolific writer (authored or edited more than 20 books), an astute user of the various social media channels available these days, and a champion of voices, including her own, that would greatly strengthen the church’s witness if heard with respect.
The particular focus in this book is Asian-American (and Canadian) women. The stories Kim recounts of her relationships with her grandmothers, her mother, her sister, and the women in the Korean Presbyterian Church in London, ON, are poignant. As they touch our souls with their lament, we get a powerful sense of what it means to really hear new voices with a tales of demeaning and dismissal to tell.
The stories Kim analyze are complex, especially as they overlap. Her descriptive language is telling – “model minority,” “enclosed,” “hidden,” “submissive,” “sexualized,” “exotic,” “legacy of shame,” and “barely visible shadows.” Kim reveals a complex net of racism from without and sexism from within her immigrant community that keeps visibility and vocality for Asian-American women on the margins.
But there is another dimension of this dynamic, one embodied by Kim herself. She has found in the Christian community and its traditions a source of resilient respect, resilience, and reform that brings her race and gender to redemptive visibility.
Here is a concise summary of her theology of visibility:
A theology of visibility reminds us that everyone is a child of God, and all life is sacred. As such, we should love and embrace one another – not stereotype, racialize, discriminate against, and hate. As we live with sacredness, dignity, and love, we will recognize God who is among us and who embraces the invisible. (159)
Kim has written eloquently on two themes that are woven through this practical application of her Christian faith to her context as an Asian-America woman.
The first is the Holy Spirit. She has reformulated the Reformed articulation of that doctrine in dialogue with the Asian concepts of Chi, that life-giving energy that infuses our daily lives, of Jeong, the “sticky love” that binds us together in all of our interdependencies, of Ou-ri, the deep sense of being “us” rather than “me,” and of Han, the undeserved suffering of human beings. She talks a lot about light, wind, breath, and vibration, especially as manifest in music (including jazz!), being channels of the Holy Spirit’s workings.
The second is intersectionality. It recognizes that people live multiple intersecting systems of oppression and domination that often determine what is noticed and what is not. By seeing and hearing new voices, we awaken to the dynamics of those systems in a way that shines a light on the suffering they impose on others and on us.
In the triune Creator’s incarnation in Jesus of Nazareth, intersectional humanity living the dynamics of the divine energy was made manifest in his proclamation of the kin-dom of God with its preference for sinners, outcasts, the marginalized, the poor, and the powerless. Theirs are the voices Kim urges us to hear, the neighbours Kim urges us to see because in their welfare we will find our own. In their visibility and vocality, the full flourishing of the kin-dom of God will be realized.
Kim’s whole body of work is a good introduction to a progressive reformulation of the Christian tradition that models a form of traditioned innovation that is not defined by ancient male theologians working out of imperial church perspectives. Set within the context of her own story of gaining visibility and vocality, this book is narrative theology at its best as it opens up for its readers new possibilities for the church’s missioning.