The true gift Tran has given us is a theologically provocative understanding of the church as a certain kind of deep economy. I will be thinking with it and learning from it for a long time.
The story of Mary, Joseph, and Jesus is nothing but the story of people fleeing the violence of an authoritarian empire, though the glitter and celebration of Christmas may have muffled the brutal reality of migrants and refuges seeking sanctuary from death. It is in the midst of such imagined Christmas that the veracity of homeless migrants dying in choppy waters and people stuck in border detention camps waiting for a new future gives us a reality check. The violent empires may have faded but their legacies linger on.
Wink presents the original contextual meaning of Jesus as also a timeless meaning. He tries to draw from the bible a clear and simple message—one that contains everything necessary for contemporary Christians to take a stand for nonviolence.
We are the heirs of Elijah’s legacy. His influence is evident within later writings of the Bible, the Bible’s earliest commentators, and within the Bible-shaped parts of our own culture. But how might we assess our inheritance? Elijah is a hero of the covenant. Moses redivivus. A witness to God’s justice and mercy for those without power. And yet. . . Elijah’s legacy is also that of a “troubler” (1Kings 18:17-18). Although the prophet denied the title, the Jewish rabbinic tradition has not been afraid to name troubling features of his ministry. He seems more pre-occupied with his own difficulties than those of the people. He does not advocate for the Israelites. He uses violence.
The Notre Dame Institute for Advanced Study hosted a conference at the beginning of this month on Theology and Black Politics. Opening with the question: “What is the Black Church?”, the conference addressed fundamental concerns regarding the nature of black politics and theology.