Sunder John Boopalan is Assistant Professor of Biblical and Theological Studies at Canadian Mennonite University in Winnipeg, Canada. He is the author of the monograph, Memory, Grief, and Agency: A Political Theological Account of Wrongs and Rites (Palgrave Macmillan, 2017). As a political theologian with interests in theological ethics, Boopalan draws from anthropological and ethnographic data particularly pertaining to caste and race. His (coauthored) forthcoming book with Fortress Press is titled Dalit Theology: A Global Introduction.
Mothers like Hagar who bear the weight of racism in the wilderness (Genesis 21:14) are always on the verge of losing their children—inferiorized by racist prejudice. These mothers’ voices are crying out, “Do not let me look on the death of the child” (Genesis 21:16).
As tempting as it might be to assign murderous impulses to so-called former colonial times, Christians would do well to pay attention to how such logic continues to operate today in theological and political thinking.
Embodying the best of the prophetic tradition, the text encourages us to consider that religion, in fact, does have functions: liberation, feeding the hungry, inviting vulnerable strangers into our homes, and undoing injustice.
First, we must all remember our history and stop the blatant amnesia behind racial and power dynamics in our field…Women and enslaved persons were not a part of the founders’ initial understanding. The same is true for the founding identities of the Society of Biblical Literature.