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The point is that movement itself—not just what message or commodity is carried along—is a political, economic, and even religious performance that should be reflected upon.

"The Origin of Race" - Dr. Willie Jennings

One such reflection would be on the Christianity that moves with missionaries. But have we reflected on the way that geography—the surroundings of people and spaces—also affects how we express and understand our faith? And what happens when we go elsewhere? Can faith be imaginatively detached from its surroundings and still be communicated or performed without loss, without remainder?

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We might congratulate ourselves on our ambivalence toward our culture; the stronger faith we have the less we depend on specific cultural modes of its expression. The message is more determinative than the medium; indeed, we still think of the two as basically distinct. But the geographical?

Book | The Christian Imagination: Theology and the Origins of Race by Willie Jennings

At what cost is our ambivalence toward the relationship between faith and place? What social imagination is formed and enacted in a faith that moves, that teaches people to be ambivalent about their surroundings and the significance of those surroundings for how faith is lived and communicated.


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Jennings enjoins us to critically consider the extent to which missions encourages interlocutors to think of themselves as mobile—to detach, disassociate, adapt, be fluid, morph—and that this is a good thing. Which is the way forward from here? The task of the missionary is to discover local discourses of placement and let them shape her imagination—how she sees herself, her interlocutors, and their place.

This joining involves first a radical remembering of the place, a discerning of the histories and stories of those for whom that land was the facilitator of their identity.

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Joseph R. He is author of many books William L. De Arteaga , Ph. His major w The Pneuma Review.

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Subscribe to receive our weekly newsletter. Enter your. Emory University , was appointed as the founding dean of the Urban Renewal Center. As Jennings observes, [t]he grid pattern of sellable squares of land signified the full realization of property ownership.

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It also displayed the complete remaking of indigenous land. Now, under the grid system, each space of land could be surveyed and designated for purchase by measurement and location.


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  7. All native peoples, no matter what they claims to land, no matter what designations they had for particular places, no matter their history and identity with specific lands, landscape, and indigenous animals, were now mapped on to the grid system — With his Christian-colonial vision of space, the white male landowner can justify his mastering of land and people as a God-given right and calling. Interestingly, in this deformed doctrine of Christian-colonial creation, a new connection between body people and place both social and physical is constructed.

    Thus, he must fully possess the land and protect it from threats of any kind. As Jennings observes, [w]hat connected these spaces was the racial imagination that permeated both the creating and shaping of perception and helped to vivify both spaces.

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    The result was fragmentation, not simply one affecting the Bible but also one effected by the performance of Scripture itself in these mangled spaces If Christianity is willing to acknowledge its failures and complicity in these colonizing and racialized practices, it can begin to re-ground, articulate, and live a doctrine of creation that respects the identity-facilitating connection between land and people—one that promotes a genuine and deep joining with others. It is first a way of seeing place in its fullest sense. Related Papers.