Friday, February 16, 2018

Conversations on Black Seminary and Black Experience


Yung Suk Kim



Today our school faculty had a heated yet lively conversation on familiar yet difficult topics such as why a Black Seminary and the black experience. I enjoyed participating in this faculty dialogue and checked in with my reflections on this question from a perspective of both an insider and outsider. I am an Asian American scholar with Korean heritage. But I don't know what that really means to me. I don't know how much I am Asian or Korean, as I live as a Diaspora in America as a citizen. I am neither fully Asian nor American; indeed, the fact is there no such a clear dividing line between cultures or among people. Even among the homogenous groups by race or otherwise is there a clear difference. 

The bottom line is all divisions are artificial. I often say to me and others: "I am who I am; I am that I am." I am I. Nothing can be adequate or sufficient enough to describe who I am. Even I don't know all of what I am. I am a singular existence, a mysterious yet puzzling gift of God that can communicate with others. I am a bit of Koreanness, a bit of other who entered my life, a bit of American by education and experience for the past 23 years, and still a bit of a cosmopolitan that I belong everywhere because I live on the earth. I belong somewhere in between all of the above spheres, and other times I feel I belong nowhere. 

When I crossed the cultural boundary between the Asian/Korean culture and the African/American culture about thirteen years ago coming to this school, I had a belief that I could communicate well with my students and faculty and that I could learn something that I had never learned before. It is true that I didn't have any particular problems simply because I was and am Asian/Korean in this predominantly African/American community. Rather, my minority was affirmed as a colleague and brother. My scholarship was reaffirmed by my colleagues. I could also contribute to the well informed educational program rooted in African heritage. I tried to be who I am and opened myself up to new learning. 

But sometimes, as we did today, the more often people talk about black experience or why a black seminary, the more I feel a sense of meandering if not an exclusion because my immediate question is: What am I doing here? Some lurking questions in my mind are: What is the role of non-black faculty or non-black students who come to school? What is blackness? Is the black experience shareable with other cultures and people? Can blackness become another power? Is it then a power of liberation or domination? Is blackness from a collective experience or personal experience? Is it primarily a human condition that must be overcome or a unique perspective or hermeneutical lens that helps others to find their freedom? Or, is it still a positive, authentic, unique experience such as black spirituality or "life-giving experience" (this term is by Miles Jones, in his article: "Why a Black Seminary," in Christian Century, Feb 1972)?

In the end, I believe the grand purpose of a Seminary, including a black seminary, must be fostering life and empowering people to live fully as they can, being set free from any human bondage, be it social, existential or psychological (c.f., Rom 8:2). In this endless pursuit of more of life, certainly, black seminaries have unique opportunities to lead others because of their rich heritage and experience. 

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Below is my original draft prepared for faculty conversation for today. I found good reasons for a black seminary. 

Why a Black Seminary?
By Yung Suk Kim, 2/16/2018

Why a black Seminary?
1. It can provide a good care to students in a more sustainable culture and community. So to speak, mutual care can be more effective than other places, and broken souls can be healed well in such an “under care” environment.

2. It can be a good place for identity formation or reformation, deeply rooted in African American heritage, culture, and experience.

3. It can be a good place for authenticity and diversity. By being authentic to African American spirit and experience, a black seminary can develop and exercise a diversity in our world, fostering "critical" spirituality and genuine solidarity with others.
But there are a few threats facing Black seminaries.
1. It can be a mere comfort zone that defies changes or challenges coming from outside. So to speak, settling down may be easy but self-change can be difficult when the same culture or experience exercises dominion in the school. Therefore, self-critique is important.

2. It can be a stagnant place due to weak resources such as finances for scholarships and faculty compensations, library and research support, and etc.



Friday, January 26, 2018

Dao De Jing 77


"The Way of heaven reduces what is excessive and supplements what is insufficient. The way of human is different. It reduces the insufficient and increases the excessive."--Daodejing 77 (translation by Yung Suk Kim)



Monday, January 22, 2018

[도덕경바탕 시집]너는 먼지다

김영석

아래는 "너는 먼지다"라는 시집의 첫 장이다.


물은 세상에서 가장 좋은 것

물은 세상에서 가장 좋은 것
색깔이 없으나 모든 색이 되고
맛이 없으나 모든 맛이 되고
자기 모습이 없으나 모든 모습이 되고
약한 것 같으나 강한 것
약하니 강한 것
잘 부서지나 강하고
잘 부서지니 강한 것
그것이 물이다

불처럼 태우는 정열은 없어도
불처럼 요란한 빛은 없어도
물은 늘 가득히 삶을 채우고
평상심을 유지한다
소멸보다는 소통을
자랑보다는 묵묵한 냉정함을
물은 부드러이
머리에서 발끝까지
충만한 부드러움으로
나를 지킨다
약함으로
생명을 지킨다

물은 불을 이긴다
전쟁이 나도
물은 끝까지 살아 남는다
물은 물이다
얼어도 물이고
눈이라도 물이고
비라도 물이다

물은 부서지고 찔려도 물이다
결코 파괴되지 않아
아파도 아프지 않아
아무리 부서져도 항상 그 자리에
부드러워 강한 것
깨어져도 파괴되진 않아
깨어질 수 있어 강한 것
단단한 것은 부러지고 부서지며
바위가 부서지면 날카로운 무기만 남지
너무 단단하면 부러지고 회복 못하는 것
부드러움은 삶의 특징
단단한 것은 죽음의 징조
부드러운 것은 늘 움직이고 흐른다는 것
단단한 것은 변화를 저항하고
흐르지 않는 것

사람이 물 같다면
물 같이 부드러워 잘 부서지나
여전하고 강한 마음
그런 부드러운 자는 마음이 부서지는 자
강퍅하고 이기적인 마음을 깨뜨리고
세상의 온갖 소식에 마음 아파
마음을 부수는 자
가장 낮은 위치에 있어도
가장 약한 위치에 있어도
신이 기뻐 받으시는 제사는 부서진
파편의 영혼
상한 갈대


강한 자 어디 있으랴
물처럼 자기의 약함을 지키고
자기의 약함을 아는 자
그런 사람은 자기를 이기는 자
세상을 이기는 자

하느님 앞에서 자기의 마음을  
물처럼 깨뜨리고
마음을 부수는 자
결코 망하지 않으리
이것이 메타노이아(metanoia)의 삶
깨어짐으로 강하여지는 비밀
부서지고 깨어질 때 신이 보이고
이웃이 보이고 내가 보인다


Saturday, January 20, 2018

When grace is realized



Grace comes with a realization that nothing is mine and that I am nothing. Each day is not mine; the sun is not mine; breathing is not mine. My heart is not mine; my legs are not mine. I walked on trails with tons of gratitude I cannot fathom its breadth or depth. What I am and all I can be is not solely by me. I can only live my best with precious gifts of life. As life is lived once, all I see and feel is a thing of grace. What is not a grace?

Based on the above idea of grace, I wrote book A Transformative Reading of the Bible. In this book, I developed three modes/moments of life that contribute to holistic human transformation: "I am no-one; I am some-one; I am one for others."



Monday, January 15, 2018

[영어신간]예수의 비유 다시 읽기



예수의 비유는 반전통적 관점에서 읽을 필요가 있다. 그의 비유는 유대 전통이나 기존 제도를 유지발전시키고자 함이 아니라 오히려 그것을 타파하고 당시 사회를 도전하는 이야기들로 가득 차있다.  다양한 개인의 삶과 사회상을 풍자하며 대안적인 길이 무엇인지 질문한다. 

그러므로 비유는 일면 예수의 이야기이며 그것은 삶에 대한 이야기이기도 하다. 그가 무엇을 말하고자 하고 어떤 삶을 꿈꾸는가? 비유가 풍자적인 이야기라면 그의 청중은 이것을 어떻게 듣고 반응하겠는가? 그리고 오늘 우리는 어떻게 읽을 것인가?  1세기 환경에서 들려진 예수의 비유가 어떤 의미에서 오늘날 우리에게 다가오는가? 나는 이런 관점에서 예수의 비유를 재구성하고 해석하려 하였다. 위의 책에서 23개의 비유가 나온다. 이는 예수의 비유 대부분을 다루는 것으로 비유에 대한 전체적 맥을 짚기에 좋을 것이다.

이 책은 비유에 대한 새로운 해석을 연다거나 새로운 논점을 개발하여 주장하려 하는 것에 목적을 두지 않고 --비록 그런 부분이 있긴 하지만-- 기존의 날카로운 비평적인 해석과 본인의 독창적인 관점을 살려 최대한 쉽게 대중에게 전달코자 하고 그들에게 새로운 생각거리를 제공코자 함이 주된 목적이다. 다시 말하면, 신약 기초 과목의 도입교재 혹은 고급 성서공부의 교재로 교회에서 활용할 수도 있을 것이다. 다만, 이것은 영어로 된 책이라 한국교회에서 활용하기란 난망하겠다. 그러나, 불가능도 아니리라 생각하면서. --김영석
저자 https://drkimys.blogspot.com 

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Officially available for order: JESUS'S TRUTH, LIFE IN PARABLES


Jesus’s Truth is officially ACTIVE and it will be available for order
Book Details:
Resource Publications
ISBN 13: 978-1-5326-4397-2
Retail: $17.00
Pub. Date: 1/10/2018

Are you looking for a short yet in-depth book that covers most parables of Jesus with keen insights and that gives you a wide spectrum of his thought of and passion for God's reign in the world?  Then, this is it.

This book was designed not so much to present new arguments but to provide critical insights into our life through critical study. But there are also my own perspectives that bring forth different interpretation altogether. At the end of each parable discussion, there are questions for reflection/discussion. 

This book will be helpful to advanced Bible study classes as well as to a graduate seminar on Jesus's teaching or to introductory courses on the New Testament.


Sunday, January 7, 2018

WHY I WROTE THIS BOOK, JESUS'S TRUTH: LIFE IN PARABLES


WHY I WROTE THIS BOOK
I wrote this book because I love Jesus's storytelling technique and his vision for a change in the world. All his stories are made up but reflect everyday life, ranging from personal work ethic to social justice. There are no topics left out in this regard. Jesus's parables, which are full of ironies and subversive truths, challenge his audience to radically adopt an alternative way of life and seek a society that must be mercy-driven, justice-ensured, and peace-nurtured.

Understandably, the most important theme of his parables is the reign of God--not understood as otherworldly salvation or future-oriented apocalyptic reality, but perceived as God's righteous reign or realm in the here and now. His fundamental belief/conviction is that people must embrace God's mercy, love, and justice. His stories are certainly world-shattering and world-reforming.

Surprisingly, two thousand years later, we still find Jesus's stories helpful and vivid as if they came from our day. That is, since the first century CE, our basic human issues have not changed much. We still struggle in many spheres of our life. I hope this book will give an opportunity to modern readers to re-engage Jesus's various life-giving stories.

This book was designed not so much to present new arguments but to provide critical insights into our life through critical study. But there are also my own perspectives that bring forth different interpretation altogether. At the end of each parable discussion, there are questions for reflection/discussion.

This book will be helpful to advanced Bible study classes as well as to a graduate seminar on Jesus's teaching or to introductory courses on the New Testament.