Monday, October 21, 2013

[just hospitality: God's welcome in a world of difference, by letty m russell]

"In this, her last book, theologian Letty Russell redefines the commonly held notion of hospitality as she challenges her readers to consider what it means to welcome the stranger. In doing so, she implores persons of faith to join the struggles for justice.

Rather than an act of limited, charitable welcome, Russell maintains that true hospitality is a process that requires partnership with the “other” in our divided world. The goal is “just hospitality,” that is, hospitality with justice.

Russell draws on feminist and postcolonial thinking to show how we are colonized and colonizing, each of us bearing the marks of the history that formed us. With an insightful analysis of the power dynamics that stem from our differences and a constructive theological theory of difference itself, Russell proposes concrete strategies to create a more just practice of hospitality.

With careful attention, she writes, we can build a network of hospitality that is truthful about our mistakes and inequities, yet determined to resist the contradictions that drive us apart. This kind of genuine solidarity requires us to cast off oppression and domination in order to truly welcome the stranger. Russell’s lasting message is a highly practical theology for both the academy and the church. The book contains questions for study and reflection."
(description from amazon)

A sample quote:
My experience as an outsider within has led me question the rigid clergy line that divides our church communities and increases hierarchy and competition for power in our denomination. At the same time, it has led me to focus in a theology of hospitality that emphasizes the calling of the church as a witness to God's intention to mend the creation by bringing about a world of justice, peace, and integrity of the natural world. There are a lot of "missing persons" in our world today whose situation of poverty, injustice, and suffering makes God weep. These missing persons are not strangers to God, for God already has reached out to care for them. Yet they are strangers in the world who need to know God cares through the witness of a church that practices a ministry of hospitality and justice on their behalf.       (p. 18-19)
Read an excerpt at Spirituality & Practice.

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