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Theological education has always been about formation: first of people, then of communities, then of the world. If we continue to promote whiteness and its related ideas of masculinity and individualism in our educational work, it will remain diseased and thwart our efforts to heal the church and the world. But if theological education aims to form people who can gather others together through border-crossing pluralism and God-drenched communion, we can begin to cultivate the radical belonging that is at the heart of God’s transformative work.
In this inaugural volume of the Theological Education between the Times series, Willie James Jennings shares the insights gained from his extensive experience in theological education, most notably as the dean of a major university’s divinity school—where he remains one of the only African Americans to have ever served in that role. He reflects on the distortions hidden in plain sight within the world of education but holds onto abundant hope for what theological education can be and how it can position itself at the front of a massive cultural shift away from white, Western cultural hegemony. This must happen through the formation of what Jennings calls erotic souls within ourselves—erotic in the sense that denotes the power and energy of authentic connection with God and our fellow human beings.
After Whiteness is for anyone who has ever questioned why theological education still matters. It is a call for Christian intellectuals to exchange isolation for intimacy and embrace their place in the crowd—just like the crowd that followed Jesus and experienced his miracles. It is part memoir, part decolonial analysis, and part poetry—a multimodal discourse that deliberately transgresses boundaries, as Jennings hopes theological education will do, too.
|Title: After Whiteness: An Education in Belonging|
By: Willie James Jennings
Number of Pages: 176
Vendor: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.
Publication Date: 2020
|Dimensions: 8.5 X 5.5 (inches)|
Weight: 8 ounces
Stock No: WW878442
"Theologian Jennings (The Christian Imagination) delivers a searing critique of Western Christian divinity school training and higher education overall. . . . In the tradition of bell hooks and Paulo Freire, Jenningss insightful indictment of the church and university will be an ideal choice for group discussion."
"An exquisite expression of faith seeking understanding, After Whiteness: An Education in Belonging is a gripping testimony to the life art of attending. When the academy is not a home, but your skin, paying attention requires everything. A fearlessly candid diagnosis of the failures of the theological academyits soul-killing cultivation of the self-sufficient man builderJenningss poetic truth-telling nevertheless refuses cynicisms surrender. After Whiteness is relentlessly hopeful . . . an incisive indictment against a white aesthetic regime, while yet a joyful proclamation of educations wonder and holy desire for gathering . . . an intimate confession of fragility and fatigue, while bearing witness to the "rain" of divine presence that bodies may touch and taste. In his plea for religious imagination and the secret agents of fragment work, the always-inspired Willie James Jennings accomplishes an overturning that puts life-giving theos back into theological education. Divinity school deans and seminary presidents will declare After Whiteness a prerequisite for teaching and learning that aims to be spirit-filled."
Andrea C. White
Union Theological Seminary in the City of New York
Praise for the TEBT series:
"At once visionary and realistic, the books in this series offer fresh, short, and very different answers to the question, What is theological education for? Studies of that question have appeared every couple of decades and seem to assume that one-size-fits-all answers are possible. Whats new and groundbreaking here is that a group of theological educators from a broad array of very different religious traditions address the question in conversation with one another and in light of the changing place of faith communities in contemporary culture."
David H. Kelsey
Yale Divinity School
"The authors of this series invite us into an exercise of the imaginationto let loose of the theological school models we know so well and instead craft ways that we teach and learn as if we are living in the new Jerusalem. This is daring work. Will we have the will to grasp it? I encourage you to read and see."
Emilie M. Townes
Vanderbilt University Divinity School
"I would be hard-pressed to name any other resource that even approaches this series in its visionary outlook and wide perspective on the challenges and opportunities currently facing theological education. The authors represent an unparalleled selection of leaders in theological education whose views and experiences point to different paths into the future, all leading to true excellence and relevance in theological education."
Justo L. González
author of The History of Theological Education
"At a time of massive changes in churches and theological schools, as well as in society generally, the twelve-book series Theological Education between the Times presents an indispensable resource. Many people, especially younger generations, question as never before the necessity of religious practice or even belonging to a congregation. In this new context, the repercussions for theological education are many: What adjustments must leaders make to maintain support? How can faculty modify programs to meet the demands of modern times? What message will attract prospective students? Astute theological educators from diverse backgrounds prayed together and engaged in conversations that contributed to the authorship of this lucid and compelling series intended for anyone concerned about the fate of religion in society."
Katarina Schuth, OSF
Saint Paul Seminary School of Divinity