Willie Jennings: Can “White” People Be Saved

This lecture is so good: https://youtu.be/9wRvaG9j53g?t=8m33s. It’s about 45 min long (though the video continues with some question and answer). As I reflect, I’m reminded that Jesus said, “repent and believe the good news” (Mark 1:15). Sometimes we need to take a look at the dis-ease we suffer from (repent) in order to be healed. Some of us still need to acknowledge the demonic strategy of “whiteness” before we can truly experience and be blessed by God’s gift of love in beloved community.

My favorite quotes:

So if you’re not following this, let me state it clearly. No one is born white. Do not tell children that. No one is born white. There is no white biology. But whiteness is real. Whiteness is a working, a forming toward a maturity that destroys. Whiteness is an invitation to a form of agency and a subjectivity that imagines life progressing toward what is in fact a diseased understanding of maturity. A maturity that invites us to evaluate the entire world by how far along it is toward this goal. White agency and subjectivity–whiteness–forms as people imagine themselves being transformed and moving toward maturity in three fundamental ways. 1) Moving from being owned to being an owner, 2) from being a stranger to a citizen, and 3) from being identified with darkness to being seen as white. Now it should be clear at this point that anyone can enter white agency and white subjectivity, that is, anyone can be white friends! Anyone can be white! Anybody can step on the path, the trajectory toward whiteness. Whiteness is not exclusive, it is inclusive! Come one, come all. We can all be white.”

“As I close, what we need at this moment is a Christian faith that can start to break our deep connection to whiteness by resisting it’s vision of maturity. In the time I have left, all I can do is suggest the first step. That’s all I can do, but the first step is the most important. The paths that have been formed by whiteness, carved on the earth and in bodies, these paths cannot be undone but they can be redirected. Drawn into new paths that lead away from death and into life. You see, it all begins with the land. I said it before, it all begins with dirt. It begins with air, water, cities, towns, neighborhoods, and homes. It all begins with new kinds of intentional communities that challenge where people live and how people live in places.”

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