Date of Award
Master of Arts (MA)
Christianity’s unique contribution to racial justice discourse is its Christocentric interpretation of what it means to be human. And yet, one impulse of contemporary, justice-oriented Christian scholarship is to mimic secular critical race theory — lapsing into racial taxonomy and binary even to describe Christian ethnicity. This thesis takes J. Kameron Carter’s Race: A Theological Account and Brian Bantum’s Redeeming Mulatto as contemporary examples of how this method plays out in Christological claims. In addition, critical race theology tends to focalize the transatlantic narrative of racialization that surfaces in the legal, sociopolitical sphere. The limits of this discourse are made plain in the presence of Christians of mixed ethnic heritage: those who are not “racially categorizable” or cannot locate themselves in the transatlantic narrative. The goal of this thesis is to address the experience of these individuals, and propose a Christological hermeneutic and lexicon that frees any reader to think of Christian ethnicity apart from race. As such, this thesis steps away from critical race methodology and takes up literary analysis as its primary mode of theological reflection. It looks to the literature of mixed ethnic heritage: Natasha Trethewey’s Bellocq’s Ophelia (poetry), Marilynne Robinson’s Gilead quartet (fiction), and Eun Ji Koh’s The Magical Language of Others (multilingual memoir). These three works separate what I call “racial ideological inheritance” from ethnic identity, posing specific questions to certain reigning concepts of Christian ethnicity. Lastly, through the theologies of Justo Gonzalez, Jung Young Lee, Clive Pearson and Risasitone Ete, I propose a transpacific migrant Christology through a Hawaiian vocabulary, which defines Jesus Christ as Ke Ha‘i Mo‘olelo — The Great Storyteller. In light of Jesus’ life, the Church holds an urgent storytelling vocation; Christian ethnicity, or the Gospel’s depiction of the believer’s relationship with the world, is a matter writing all people from all generations into God’s family through embodied storytelling.
Padilla, Lauren (Kalani)
"Christ Ke Ha’i Mo’olelo: Race, Christology and Pacific Islander Storytelling" Whitworth University (2021). Theology Projects & Theses.
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