Tuesday, 3 May 2016

Book Review: Seeing – Remembering – Connecting

Karen L. Bloomquist, Seeing – Remembering – Connecting:  subversive practices of being Church, Cascade Books, 2016.

Reviewed by Bob Faser.

How can churches engage with our society so as to resist injustice and to transform the culture?  This is the question Karen Bloomquist addresses in Seeing – Remembering – Connecting. 

Bloomquist, a minister of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, writes from her experience as a pastor, a theological educator, and a denominational and ecumenical staffer.  At the beginning of the book, she states her purpose as enabling churches to subvert the patterns of injustice in the wider society (which she describes throughout the book as “domination” and “empire”) by pursuing “alternate public visions” of reality (p. 1).

Bloomquist describes three “subversive practices” that need to be cultivated to pursue these alternate visions:  seeing, remembering, and connecting.

·        Seeing is the ability to observe the reality of our society and culture, as opposed to the dominant illusions of our culture.

·        Remembering is the ability to relate both to the broad sweep of our faith tradition and to the reality of our secular history, as opposed to the historical amnesia of our culture.

·        Connecting is the ability to relate positively to people whom we regard as “the Other”, in terms of race, religion, culture, gender, lifestyle, or economics, as opposed to our culture’s rampant individualism and its encouragement to fear of “the Other”.

Significantly, Bloomquist writes predominantly from the perspective of a theologian rather than that of a social scientist, although she is qualified to do both.  Such vital themes of Christian faith as Incarnation, Trinity, and Eucharist frequently appear in her discussion of the “subversive practices” of seeing, remembering, and connecting.  At one level, I assumed the use of these theological themes was a function of Bloomquist’s Lutheranness.  Nevertheless, I appreciated the implication that a church which seeks to participate in the transformation of its wider culture does not have to adopt a theological or liturgical minimalism to do so.

I recommend Seeing – Remembering – Connecting if you’re seeking some brief (101 pages) but substantial theological reading.

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