Why a Theology of Mixed People?

Redeeming Mulatto… Why a theology of mixed race life? Who is it for? In many ways this book is a deeply personal journey. It is an attempt to discern my own life as a mixed race child, figuring out where to belong, realizing that belonging is itself a difficult and dangerous business. Yet, it is also a a work that arises out of a Christian faith that both grounded my disorientation while introducing new questions, possibilities and impossibilities.

Not satisfied with the trope of interracial person as “bridge between many peoples,” a product of a simple equation where “one drop” made one black, or where one could easily deny any connection to a darker heritage out of a desire to “just be me,” my introduction to theology began to widen the vocabulary with which I described my own body and experiences both as a Christian and an interracial man.

In the midst of this I came to find that my sense of dislocation, of uncomfortable multiplicity was shared by the woman I would eventually marry. A Korean American woman, formed within a pentecostal Korean church and the black church, our stories of negotiating identities and occupying surprising, but nonetheless difficult tension resonated within one another.

In her experience, in her charismatic faith I found yet another language to describe what it might look like to be “mixed” and that this was not only a sociological or biological category, but also a theological category.

In these varied ways, I hope that this book begins to make space not only for those whose lives are “mulatto” in the technical sense of the word (half black, half white) but mixed in the many ways that our modern world has created for us (Indian/white, Korean/black, all of the above, 2nd generation, white but raised in a black neighborhood, black but raised in a white neighborhood, or any other configuration one might imagine).

Truth be told, I hope in a multicultural America, we might all find a bit of ourselves in this narrative of our sinfulness, Christ’s salvific body, and a new possibility for our lives together.

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5 thoughts on “Why a Theology of Mixed People?

  1. Hello Dr. Bantum,

    I attended your presentation about “Redeeming Mulatto” at Quest Church this week and really enjoyed hearing you speak. I’m looking forward to reading the book!

    I wasn’t able to stay afterwards but I had a question that I wanted to ask you. I was particularly intrigued by your portrayal of Jesus’ life as one that transgresses boundaries and makes people uncomfortable–a sort of a “in your face” Jesus.

    The idea of Jesus living an “offensive” life is not something that I’ve ever thought about. The gosples make it pretty clear that other people take offense at Jesus–but the idea that Jesus’ life was such that it would INEVITABLY cause offense is an interesting thought.

    I spend most of my life attempting to be as inoffensive as possible. I have always considered that to be following a Christian model. Various catch phrases like “building relationships” and “creating conversation” and “engaging the cutlure” are coming to mind right now.

    I’m not saying any of those catch phrases are bad, but your talk makes me wonder if perhaps the empasis is off center…is an “inoffensive” life model informed by Christ or by my culture? In your opinion, Dr. Bantum, do I (as a Christian) have permission to give offense?

    I’d love to hear your thoughts, and if you have have suggestions about scripture studies/book resources that I might follow up that would be great to!

    All the best,
    Sonja Lowe

    1. Hello Sonja,

      Thanks for your question. I am not quite sure I would quite use the phrase “offensive” life. While Jesus’ life challenged boundaries the interesting thing about how he went about this was not through direct confrontation, but rather a presence that confounded the claims both the pharisees and the Roman state sought to make. In some regards this is offensive. I would like to offer a slightly different term, perhaps Jesus’ presence was inherently political. That is, the way he inhabited political space (including families, religious life, everyday practices such as eating) all resonated with a character that was in one way connected to these institutions, but at the same time disrupted its assumptions about what is possible. Here is a key point, in my view, it is not our critique that is offensive, but our love… I would be happy to pass on some titles to you as well. Congratulations on the Bonhoeffer play, btw. I hear it has been a tremendous success!

  2. I wanted to say “thank you”. I am mulatto, and I have always struggled to “belong” someplace and with some people. I feel like my story has been told and it has started a movement of conversation and freedom for me. Thank you so much for allowing God to speak through you to me in a very deep and personal way.

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