The Chair and the Desk, 9/15/15

The chair:

But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. 

-2 Corinthians 4:7

Paul had to remind the Christians in Corinth that they were “the weak things,” that they did not depend on “earthly wisdom,” and that they are simply containers for the glory that is God’s. I need these same constant divine calls to humility.

The desk:

Clearly the fragmenting of subject position suggests that no one feature—gender, race, class—of location provides an adequate definition of any particular subject, and thereby cannot be found mirrored in a textual reading or performance.

-Mary McClintock Fulkerson, “Changing the Subject,” 1994 ed., p.151

One of my primary frustrations with the Northeastern restaurant scene is the prevalence of “asian” restaurants: Korean restaurants with sushi, Chinese restaurants that serve phad thai. How can a restaurant be “asian,” when Asia is 50% of the earth? Over my academic years, I’ve had a similar concern about feminism: How can feminism represent “women” when women are 50% of the earth?

With this book for my practical theology seminar, I learned that my critique is a bit behind the times, because Fulkerson takes this charge seriously from within feminism, carefully listening to two groups of women who don’t label themselves “feminists” (some middle-class Presbyterians and some economically insecure Pentecostals). She publishes a new conversation that isn’t entirely the interviewees (because she still shapes the interviews, writing, etc.), but isn’t entirely Fulkerson either (because they really are represented in the book). Because of this, she takes seriously the realization in the quote, above, that no book, movie, statement, etc. can represent a person as one “thing”–we are always a combination of “things”–but also argues that we can still learn about people who are different than us and apply that learning to loving others.

“The chair” is the one Annie aptly chose for the corner of our living room, and it’s where I am committed to daily hearing from God’s Word–the Word I above all else hope to speak to others. “The desk” is the one by my coffee grounds and spare charger (if I get to the library early enough); it’s where I have the privilege of reading and thinking all day, where I intend to learn for others’ sake. 

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