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 Toward a Cosmopolitan Theology: Constructing Public Theology from the Future N A M S O O N K A N G Let us take hold of the fact that there are two communities—the one, which is truly great and common, embracing gods and men, in which we look neither to this corner not to that, but measure the boundaries of our state by the sun; the other, the one to which we have been assigned by our birth. seneca It makes no difference whether a person lives here or there, provided that, wherever he lives, he lives as a citizen of the world. marcus aurelius It is part of morality not to be at home in one’s home. theodor adorno Ich bin du, wenn Ich Ich bin [I am you, when I am I]. paul celan VISIONING FOR PLANETARY L OVE The question of who one is, the question of one’s identity, has been a contested and recurring issue in various discourses and movements. The ‘‘who-am-I’’ question was once for me only an existential question, meaning that I was not fully aware of my multiple locationality in the world. The exclusively existential nature of my ‘‘who-am-I’’ question began to take a new form after feminism touched my life. The awareness of my gender and race in a white dominant culture extended the ‘‘who-am-I’’ question from PAGE 258 ................. 17764$ CH15 10-28-10 12:07:56 PS c o ns t r uc t i ng p u bl i c th e o lo g y fr o m th e f ut u r e 兩 2 5 9 a mere existential question to a social, cultural, and geopolitical one. In contemporary identity politics, identity usually refers to the axis of race, ethnicity, gender, religion, and sexual orientation. One forms the collective dimension of this kind of identity based on the unique difference of one’s particular group from the other groups. In order to claim a collective identity , one needs to create one’s own categories that make one distinct from other categories. Once society labels a group of people as feminist, gay, African American, or Asian, ideas and categories about the people come to imply social, political, cultural, psychological, spiritual, and theological effects. These labels shape the ways people perceive themselves and their actions and advocacy. In this process of constructing collective identity, one begins to shape one’s agency in the public sphere. One has no control over some criteria for establishing one’s identity, such as gender, race/ethnicity, ability, or sexuality, but choice determines other criteria, such as feminist, Marxist, postcolonialist, philosopher, theologian, Muslim, Buddhist, or Christian. Here identity politics faces a serious question: What is ‘‘the stronger mobilizing discourse,’’1 not merely for a particular group but for the globe? Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak offers an answer to this question: Love. This mind-changing love wins ‘‘the attention of the subaltern without coercion or crisis’’ and is ‘‘the possibility of an unascertainable ethical singularity.’’2 The mind-changing love is more essential to move the world than ‘‘the collective efforts to change laws, relations of production, systems of education , and health care’’ because ‘‘without the mind-changing one-on-one responsible contact, nothing will stick.’’3 Spivak goes on to say: ‘‘We all know that when we engage profoundly with one person, the responses—the answers—come from both sides. Let us call this responsibility, as well as ‘answer’ability or accountability. . . . In this sense, ethical singularity can be called a secret encounter.’’4 How can ‘‘we,’’ who dream of a planetary love but have ties to different identities, form a profoundly radical coalition and solidarity? Is ‘‘solidarity in multiplicity’’ possible? What kind of epistemology can guide such a radical coalition across the dividing line of identity, which a term such as planetary love expresses? One cannot appeal to some transparently universal ground of being but rather must negotiate the meaning of one’s collective identity in relation to structures of language, gender, class, ethnicity , ability, sexual orientation, religion, and so forth. As Friedrich Nietzsche eloquently puts it: PAGE 259 ................. 17764$ CH15 10-28-10 12:07:56 PS 260 兩 n a ms o o n k a n g [F]or the enrichment of knowledge it may be of more value not to reduce oneself to uniformity in this way, but to listen instead to the gentle voice of each of life’s different situations...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9780823248780
Related ISBN
9780823233250
MARC Record
OCLC
708566770
Pages
480
Launched on MUSE
2012-07-18
Language
English
Open Access
No
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