Rachel Held Evans (1981-2019) would have had just the right words for a time like this. Her death is doubly cruel in robbing us of one of our foremost poet-theologians, one who could gaze into deep voids and tremendous griefs and from them craft creeds that could breathe for us when we could not. Rachel exuded an incredible influence on contemporary Christian belief and practice.
Across the ocean on a small island; on the shelf of a small seminary library, I came across the book "Black Theology & Black Power" (I still believe the ghosts of my ancestors guided my path that day). I read the preface with the intent of just skimming and going on to the next, more common theological literature used in the Pacific, such as Barth, Tillich or Process theologians like John Cobb. In contrast, I had almost finished reading the entire book when the librarian turned the lights out to close. I rushed downstairs and begged her to let me check it out to finish reading it later that evening.
As a college student, I was a member of a fundamentalist, cultic strain of white evangelicalism that took pride in differentiating itself from the supposed “cultural baggage of Korean and black churches”. When I started to question some of our tradition’s toxic teachings around gender, race, and sexuality — violent, colonial relics that withered much of our ethics and discipleship — I was shunned from my community in a very painful and traumatic way. For years, I felt unsure of how I could possibly be a Christian again, and I was afraid to enter faith spaces, though I still felt a need for Jesus-shaped spiritual nourishment.