Jesus Radicals Blog 2005-2017
By: Ric Hudgens
Shawn Sanford Beck’s short, suggestive essay (60 pages) on “Christian animism” is a provocative delight. I want to highlight some of his most salient points and indicate some further directions for those who want to go further.
The Rev Shawn Sanford Beck is a priest in the Anglican Church of Canada. He lives with his family on an off-the-grid homestead in Saskatchewan.
Beck writes:“To say that a Christian can, and should, cultivate a relationship with the spirits of nature, the spirits of the land, is something new. What was natural and somewhat unconscious up until the end of the medieval period now requires consciousness and intentionality.”
But can’t we do that without calling it “Christian animism”? Beck argues that we need not fear animism, nor should we see the conjunction of Christian and animist as something so foreign or idiosyncratic. Christian animism according to Beck is “what happens when a committed Christian engages the world and each creature as alive, sentient, and related, rather than soul-less and ontologically inferior.”
Christian Animism seems so exotic and frankly eccentric because we have all been indoctrinated into a “cult of reductionism” that reduces the world’s wondrous multiplicity to a series of justs: just a tree, just a rock, just the earth. In my own initial writing about Christian Animism I noted how the voices of creation have been bound and gagged by modernity so that only the human voice can be heard.
By: Jesus Radicals
I found out about Rachel Dolezal via an email with the subject line, “WTF”.
I can’t remember everything that went through my mind as I followed the enclosed link article: to a story about a woman of predominantly European descent who masqueraded as a Black woman for a decade. But I am fairly certain my feelings were a mix of disbelief (Is this a joke?), confusion (Wait, what???), humor (#iggyonsteroids), and eventually anger. Anger at how long her charade went on. Anger at all the opportunities she received because of her pretense. Anger at the deception: the African American man she claimed as her dad; the adopted Black brother she said was her son; the suspicious reports about receiving hate mail; the false stories about growing up as a Black girl; the lies on social media about “going natural.” Anger that each position she had in the community and beyond, she occupied in place of Black women academics, activists and artists who struggle to get the access and recognition that our skills and knowledge deserve.
That the Dolezal controversy came on the heels of Caitlyn Jenner’s emergence as a transgender woman made discussions about a complex situation even more complicated. As the hours passed, I steeled myself for the inevitable comparisons between the two stories. “Wait for it…Wait for it…Yep,” I thought as the transracial hashtag burst onto the scene. The only thing missing was a drumroll.
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