‘After Whiteness: An Education in Belonging’ by Willie James Jennings Book Review


“The crowd is itself a destination and not a means to an end. The goal of cultivating those who can gather people centers theological education in its erotic power….Erotic power is, as Rita Nakashima Brock states, ‘the power of our primal interrelatedness’….Erotic power has been drawn in our time into the trajectories of colonial control rooted in whiteness and made malignant through racial segregation that has shaped and continuous to shape so many individuals and communities. Desire rooted in control is disordered desire that inevitably forms social prisons that drain life” (Willie James Jennings 149).

“The distorted erotic power that fuels that works must be freed from its captivity to whiteness and turned back toward its source in divine desire. We can start again. That ‘again’ being a gift from the God who raised Jesus from the dead. Theological education exists in the ‘again.’ This is education that has as its fundamental resource erotic power, and that power finds its home in the divine ecstasy in which God relentlessly gives Godself to us, joyfully opening the divine life as our habitation” (Willie James Jennings 151).

“To be invoked in theological education is to long for eternity and the end of death. It is to seek the blessed state where our words start to do new works by first joining the chorus of the words of those who live forever in the Lord and who sound the healing and redeeming voice of the living God. Then our words will heal. Then our words will build up. Then our words will help form life together. Then our words will give witness to a destiny only visible through love. Talking together then is a practice aimed at eternity, and it matters more than we often realize for bringing our hope into focus. This finally is the goal of this book and the task I want to leave you with — to bring hope into focus” (Willie James Jennings 157).

Reflection on the ‘In-Between’ Times

In a few weeks, I HOPE to be able to make a post revealing our wonderful new condo, celebrating that the move-in process is officially complete, and expressing excitement over the start of our homeownership journey.

But, amidst that post, and other posts of joy, the public-facing reality of life’s daily hardships and grind gets lost. During my prayer time this morning, as I grappled and struggled with the anxiety, struggle, and fear of this time of tremendous upheaval and change, I felt convicted to share this reality: Moving sucks. Especially compounded with the stress of everyday life.

I thought it was important to share a post of the ‘in-between’ joyful posts because it is more honest. But also because it is in the moments of trials and tribulations that I find myself most cognizant of God’s power of love and care in my life, especially through the incredible tribe of family, friends, and holistic supports (yay therapy) around me. It is these ‘in-between times’ of day-to-day life, as well as the hardships, that make the joyful moments so divine.

And in these ‘in-between times,’ and times of hardships, I give thanks for the unceasing presence of God that so often shows up in the form of YOU. I give thanks for you and the community of support you have all been for Connor and me.

While I look forward to being able to make the joyful post about our completed move, I thought it was important to name that this is a very challenging time and that I’m struggling. And that is both okay and honest.

Life isn’t living from joy to joy, as our social media accounts seem to display, but being present with God, and one another, in all the times: joys, hardships, and the in-between.

Love, thanks, and blessings to you all!