- Places of Redemption: Theology for a Worldly Church
Are people who are considered ‘racial Others’ correct in asserting that those in the majority are oblivious to issues of race and ethnicity? This question is relevant when analysing the work entitled Places of Redemption by Mary McClintock Fulkerson. By grounding her observations about racism and able-ism in a theological framework, Fulkerson helps readers better understand the relevance of such concepts within today’s Christian Church.
Fulkerson sets out to accomplish her goal by focusing on the practical theology of a particular church called Good Samaritan United Methodist Church. Framing her concerns through political theorists such as Iris Young, she examines the marginalizing impact of racism and able-ism, in part, through obliviousness.
After laying the ground work in Chapter 1, she proceeds in Chapter 2 to argue that place theory makes practices central to the imagining of the faith community. She supports this argument by exploring complex understandings of power, communication and even bodily representation. She later argues in Chapter 3 that place represents a convergence of practices such as demonstrated in Good Samaritan. The following chapters explore worship, homemaking (or hospitality) practices, and biblical interpretation. Chapters 7 and 8 reveal Good Samaritan as a place where such practices can provide unity and redemption. She ends by challenging normative assumptions contained in systemic or philosophical thinking.
Fulkerson also explores the concept of ‘color-blind’ approaches to racial polity emphatically stating that this approach exempts non-Black persons from addressing racial injustice. One cannot address or rectify that which one does not even admit exists. Therefore, she states, ‘this logic suggests an account of Christian identity as a project of denial . . . ’ (p. 224). Similarly, to ignore race can be perceived as an act of kindness when it might more accurately reflect ‘fear, anxiety, and disgust’ according to Fulkerson (p. 19). [End Page 243]
Places of Redemption uses Good Samaritan Church to help readers better understand identity formation while revealing the angst many people still have regarding race and disability. Fulkerson provides keen insight into the nuanced behavior from the majority which perpetuates inequity through obliviousness. Her book is helpful for those using practical theology in pursuit of social justice through the Gospel. [End Page 244]