John Boopalan

John Boopalan

Sunder John Boopalan completed his Ph.D. in Religion and Society at Princeton Theological Seminary. His book, Memory, Grief, and Agency: A Political Theological Account of Wrongs and Rites (Palgrave Macmillan, 2017), is the outcome of his tenure at the Episcopal Divinity School, Cambridge, where he served as a Postdoctoral Fellow.  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.

Essays

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.

Nostalgia and Politics

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.

“Can’t the disadvantaged be advantaged without disadvantaging us? Does their uplift necessarily have to entail our own loss?”

The posture that invites those who are struggling for freedom to “Get up and eat, otherwise the journey will be too much for you” is a political posture laden with messianic power.

In her very presence, the widow performs the political act of bringing to light oppression and injustice. Our task is to learn how to see her.

Does theology aid or hinder memory work vis-à-vis structural wrongs? What fresh theological framework may political theology employ for assistance in transformative memory work?