‘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).

An Elegy for Dismantling White Supremacy

We must dismantle white supremacy

root out corruption in theology –

Christian nationalism heresy –

that creates oppressive hegemony.

Ending white supremacy’s tyranny

would mean co-creating God’s peaceable

Kin-dom in the now, and eternity,

Earth begets Heaven interminable.

Jesus Christ modeled how to resist

oppressive legalese of the elite

through love that is political and persists

until all people can flourish replete.

This is the Spirit-driven task to which

we are called and led as Christ followers –

to tend to the poor and not to the rich –

salvation: the welfare of all others.