12 Jul I see you
I recently participated in the ANZATS – the Australian and New Zealand Association of Theological Schools – Annual Conference.
This conference brings together a wide variety of academics – from vastly different denominations – speaking on various aspects of Christian theology and life. The keynote speaker this year was Rev Dr Serene Jones, President of Union Theological Seminary in New York and President of the American Academy of Religion.
It was a rich time of thinking and discussion as people sought to maintain respectful ways of engaging with one another despite holding very different understandings of faith, the divine, of Christ and of salvation. One thing that Rev Dr Serene commented on was that in the United States of America it would not be possible for people from such diverse theological backgrounds to stay meeting in the same conference over 3 days without major walk outs, and she commended members of ANZATS for being able to do so.
In one of the papers I attended, a moving short film was played about the human gaze. It was made by Amnesty International in Poland. I am attaching the link below and I commend it to you.
In this week of devastating race related violence in the United States and in the wake of continuing violence around the world, the reminder of the power of actually seeing one another is potent.
I don’t think it is an accident that Jesus is recorded as seeing people and bringing radical healing and challenge through doing this. Time and again Jesus’ healing is for those people who are deemed insignificant by society and Jesus’ healing comes in the form of challenge to those who are are trapped by their own privilege within the system (eg. Luke 7.11-17, Mark 10.17-31, Matthew 20.29-34).
The way of Christ calls us out of our blindspots. In Christ we are inculcated to see and value the other and to see and name the systemic violence that is targeted towards black people, towards women, the poor, people of various sexual orientations, people who are differently abled and people enduring mental illness; all those who are made to bear the mantle of being other by society.
People are not other.
The way of Christ is about discovering, and living into, the shocking truth that the so called other is actually seen and beloved of the divine, a treasured person, and of naming this truth over and over again so that the lie of ‘othering’ is exposed.
Blessings to you
Rev Dr Sally Douglas