Racism and the Bible

Has the Bible helped create modern racism? That’s the question Rev. Stephen explores in our latest podcast. He talks with Professor HyeRan Kim-Cragg of the University of Toronto. Professor Kim-Cragg draws on feminism, her own Korean roots and critical race theory to provide a rich and nuanced look at how the Bible has shaped our modern situation, and how it can help us fight back against racism. The Rooster Crows LPCC podcast is available on our website, and you can subscribe to it on Apple, Google Play, Spotify and Podbean. Let us know what you think, and please share with friends. This is one more way LPCC is trying to share progressive Christianity with the world. 

Racism and the Bible Podcast Transcript 

Judi Pressman 0:05

Hello and welcome to this edition of the Rooster Crows podcast. My name is Judi Pressman. Today we're talking about racism and the Bible. The idea that one of our primary identities is defined by our skin colour is common sense in our society. But it wasn't always that way. The Bible rarely describes how anyone looks. And yet it has been used to justify racism for as long as racism in the West has existed. Is this just a misunderstanding? Or has the Bible helped us to get to our modern crisis of racism? That's what Reverend Rev. Stephen Milton discusses today with Dr. HyeRan Kim-Cragg of the University of Toronto. She has spent years teaching about racism and colonization in Christian seminaries. She believes that the Bible has a lot to answer for, and it can also be an important part of the solution.

Rev. Stephen Milton 1:16

So welcome everyone. This is Reverend Stephen Milton and I want to talk about racism and the Bible today. I realize I am a pinky white man who looks like he came from the north of France so I know that my perspective is certainly not a perspective that should be just taken at face value, so I wanted some help. So I asked around to some friends -- who could I talk to who really knows this stuff? And they told me I should go to HyeRan Kim- Cragg, who is a professor of homiletics at Emmanuel College in Toronto. She's been teaching anti-racism in her courses for more than 10 years. She's been doing racial justice workshop-training for people in the United Church of Canada. And she just wrote an anti-racism study-guide for the people of the United Church of Canada, which will come out in the fall. So, Professor Kim-Cragg, welcome.

Prof. HyeRan Kim-Cragg 2:10

Thank you very much, Stephen. This is an honour, a real privilege to be a part of this wonderful podcast program that you're running.

Rev. Stephen Milton 2:19

Well, thanks and thanks for being here. So let's start with how did you get interested in anti-racism and the Bible?

Prof. HyeRan Kim-Cragg 2:27

Well, you know, I am racialized, meaning non-white, and my skin colour and the way that I look affects the perception of some people about how I see in the world. It's something that I cannot deny or erase. I studied post-colonial theories as part of my doctoral studies and colonialism cannot be fully understood without knowing how this race and racism came about especially during the modern European colonialism. So that's how I got into academic area. And then really as a feminist, also, personal is political, and my personal identity as a racialized person navigating the world with this body is very political because one of the critical forms of oppression is racism.

Rev. Stephen Milton 3:38

And so lots of people of course of colour can get by without knowing anything about how race and the Bible intersect. So as a Christian academic --there's lots of Christian academics who don't talk about this at all, but you have been looking into it. So, what led you to start studying the Bible from this perspective?

Prof. HyeRan Kim-Cragg 3:59

It's really true that when you say the Bible has racism and how does that look like? Right? And that's not very obvious question because the very words of “race” or “racism” do not appear in the Bible.

Rev. Stephen Milton 4:20
Yeah, ’cuz one of the things which is curious about the Bible is that it's hard to tell what almost anybody looks like. Right? Most of the time, you can't tell when someone's tall or short, thin or fat, much less anything about their skin colour. There are so few references.

Prof. HyeRan Kim-Cragg 4:38

That's right. Yeah, the physical features, stature, those are not a concern of the biblical writers. You know, but that being said, that the very notion of the race and racism do not appear or, exist in the Bible. The many stories in the Bible, though, contain discrimination against particular groups of people, by other groups of people. And, to me, race is always intersectional; meaning no person is let alone, only one kind, right? So, there is always gender that is related to culture, that is related to ethnicity, that is related to race and other markers that, kind of, create one's identity. And so, in that regard, there are so many obvious stories of oppression and discrimination, due to their differences, in the Bible.

Rev. Stephen Milton 5:56

Yeah, there's no shortage of hatred in the Bible, right? I mean, yeah, exactly. I mean, people are finding reasons to hate each other all the time in the Bible, often based on religious differences, certainly, but not just that. National differences make a big difference. And everybody seems to be defined by either the nation or their religious beliefs but not by their skin colour, which I think is interesting for us because we've been living with racism now for 500 years where people just take it, as a matter of matter of faith really, that one of the primary aspects of your identity as a person is going to be related to your skin colour. And yet, when you crack open the Bible, nobody's talking about that. Which is interesting. It makes us feel like we've taken we've somehow taken a left turn at Albuquerque somewhere. And we've gotten into this new way of thinking, which has obviously proven to be rather poisonous.

Prof. HyeRan Kim-Cragg 6:55

Yeah, but in terms of the nationalism, and fight over the others, whether it's land or economic interest, or whatever, I also think that religion is a part of the game, right? So it is not the sole reason why we are doing that, but religion is always implicated. So here are some examples I think we could talk about; kind of digging into some of the biblical stories. For example, I mean, one of the most pivotal stories for Judeo Christian is the Exodus, right? And the very notion of God's delivery of the Hebrew slaves out of Egypt is a story of one particular group’s oppression over the other. And of course, that Exodus story has served as an inspiration for Black slaves and their ancestors seeking emancipation in North America. But the flip side of the coin is that the very story of the Exodus is also related to the book of Joshua. Right? So Exodus is before they are entering into the Promised Land. In the book of Joshua is how they are getting into the Promised Land where we also see a kind of ethnic cleansing happening, right? As the inhabitants of the Promised Land, or Canaanites, and others, including even all the creatures, and the book says they were utterly destroyed to make room for the Hebrews and their religion. So that's troubling. And that very story of Exodus has been used to justify conquering other lands.

(music interlude)

Prof. HyeRan Kim-Cragg

The Babylonian oppression is the following era, right? And so that's another oppression due to those ethnic and religious differences.

Rev. Stephen Milton 9:27

That's probably one that we should unpack a little bit, because although Exodus is famous, the Babylonian captivity is not so famous for some people. So, folks, basically what happened was, the Babylonians were based in what is now Iraq. They were the major Empire of the day and they came and invaded Israel and took over the north and then the south and they completely razed Jerusalem and destroyed the temple, took all the ruling class of Jerusalem at that time and brought them back to Babylon. Other people were exiled to Egypt and just a tiny number of people were left in Israel itself. And basically the whole place went to weeds while the Jews were in exile for seven years,

Prof. HyeRan Kim-Cragg 10:16

But in terms of the connection between the kind of ethnic cleansing or racial violence is found in the story of Esther as an example, right? And, because what happens in the story is, as you know, that Haman attempts to eliminate the Jewish people. And this story prefigures the 20th century Holocaust during the Nazi era. So, some people think, how can that kind of thing happen in the 20th century? And you might say, that's nothing new, and the very story in the book of Esther foretells that issue.

Rev. Stephen Milton 11:13

I think it's interesting, the examples you're giving, show that the idea of totally eliminating or totally dominating another people is firmly entrenched in the Bible. There are many instances of that, and as you said, when the Exodus ends, and Joshua brings the Chosen People across the water, across the Jordan, they've been told by God, they can take over any lands they want. So they do. And that idea that one group can be a “chosen people” and be superior to everybody else, becomes a key idea in Western Colonialism and Western Racism, because whites obviously say, “Well, there are people who are allowed to be better than everybody else. It's in the Old Testament.” Christians believe that we're better than the Jews. We’re the right religion so it's not that much of a leap for some people to say, “God's taught us that some people are a lot better than other people.” So we've decided that we white people are better than everybody else.

Prof. HyeRan Kim-Cragg 12:13

Yeah. So in many ways, you might say that the oldest form of racism is actually Christians against Jews. That's already in the Bible; from, not only Hebrew Scripture, but also New Testament and Apostle Paul's writings are somehow dangerous there as well. And the Gospel of John, knowing that the very community out of which that gospel of John speaks, is a very persecuted Jewish minority who decide to follow Jesus. And so even within their own Jewish groups there are hatreds and persecutions happening. And because of that lived experience, that community is under a lot of pressure and persecution. They portrayed, Jews are bad, right? And that translated into then the killer of Jesus, and therefore, so on, so forth. So those kinds of extreme violence against certain groups is contained in the Bible.

But then, going to Jesus era, the very fact from Matthew first all the way to the end of John's Gospel, we realize how many different ethnic groups between Romans, Jews, Samaritans, Greeks, and others, were not even named here, are existing prominently and many of Jesus teachings is how to get along. And how to, especially for our Jewish audience, because Jesus was a Jew and tried to reform the communities and so opened up to the Gentiles. In other words, non-Jewish people. So, there is that kind of breaching the barriers or getting rid of those barriers for the sake of the Reign of God that we know; that the God we believe in does not discriminate, and that everyone who looks different, who has differences are, in God's sight beautiful and good inherently.

Rev. Stephen Milton 14:47

Yeah, and Jesus goes so far out of his way to make that point with his parables like the Good Samaritan story, which most people remember as being a story about, well, that's what a good person should do. They should help someone who's hurt at the side of the road. What we often don't hear in that story is that the Samaritans were a national group, little bit to the east of the Israelites in Jerusalem. And they were thoroughly hated by the Jews. Like, the last person you wanted helping you at the side of the road if you're a good Jew is a Samaritan. And yet Jesus makes the Samaritan the person who stops and picks up the wounded man. And it's really pushing it in their faces. Like no, actually, the Reign of God, that love that God wants us all to practice has to come -- can be present in everybody, regardless of their national or religious identity. Jesus is a great leveler.

Prof. HyeRan Kim-Cragg 15:42
And that wounded man is a Jewish man. Right. And very, several people who pass by, for their good or not-so- good reasons, it's hard to know, are Jewish, right. So in other words, you are supposed to help your people, your kind of people, and yet it’s the person that they despise the most, that they don't want to get along with at all, they are the ones who save this person's life. So it's so ironic. But that's the basic point of the Christian faith, right? That kind of paradoxical truth that God is inviting us to embrace and live.

(music interlude)

Rev. Stephen Milton 16:45

But the key with paradox as I keep reminding my parishioners is that the thing about a paradox is that -- it's when two seemingly contradictory ideas are held together at the same time without the need to choose between one and the other. Right. And it's so hard for us to do that. We always want to choose one side rather than the other. And that idea that we're different, but we should still love each other is like two ideas that we have a really hard time keeping at the same time. But that's kind of the point of the faith, you know.

Prof. HyeRan Kim-Cragg 17:23

Yeah, exactly. And I think that so-called dangers of a fundamentalism, or I will say, kind of biblically, literalist views are dangerous, is in part because that doesn't allow people to be both and that fundamentalist view is that if this is right, then the other should be wrong. But you remember Fiddler on the Roof? Some of you might love that movie. Norman Jewison is our very own Canadian director. And in their story, you know this is one of my favorite movies, the rabbi, being asked question, and the rabbi said, Yeah, this is right. And then the other say, Oh, that can be right, because of this. And then the rabbi says, Yeah, you're right, too. And so the third person said, How can that number one and number two are seemingly opposite direction could be right? And the rabbi said, You're also true. Right? And so in the sense of holding the opposite views, perspectives in tension, and being able to put on somebody else’s shoes, even if that is not from your own view. Right? So to be able to empathetically, but also just holding that as a part of life, because life, we know, is not predictable. Who would have thought that we are living in COVID-19 pandemic for almost two years, right?

Rev. Stephen Milton 19:04

Yeah, exactly. And one of the things which I tell people is that the Christians didn't choose the cross as a symbol right away. It took a few hundred years for it to settle down. It was a fish for a while, and then it became the cross. But one of the nice things about the cross is, it's something that points in two directions at once. That's what you’ve got to remember with Christianity; you're being asked to hold two very different perspectives at once. Love your neighbour and love God. But also these sorts of paradoxical things which we encounter in life all the time, spirituality is supposed to be a way to understand those rather than a way to run away from them.

Prof. HyeRan Kim-Cragg 19:44

Yeah. So going back to the Bible. I think, really that is the key to understanding how to read the Bible is to knowing that there are ambiguous and even ambivalent positions in the Bible. So one story says that, but the other story says the otherwise and we have to have both without losing sight of each position. And so the Bible has that as almost like a fact. So we cannot just choose one over the other, but also interpretation, right, so the Bible is written, and we cannot do anything about that; it’s there. But we have a choice how to read, how to interpret the very text; sometimes troublesome, sometimes so informing, right. And so we need to learn to interpret the Bible in both liberating ways. And also noting that this very text has been used in oppressive ways.

Rev. Stephen Milton 21:05

So let's talk about that now because racism, as we understand it, is something which really got started around 500 years ago and picks up steam over those 500 years. And the people who started enslaving Africans, and Indigenous people were Christian Europeans. So at a time when Christianity was totally in charge of the culture, they must have justified their actions based on their interpretation of the Bible. Can you talk a little bit about how they went to the Bible to say, Aha, see, we're allowed to do this to Black and Indigenous people.

Prof. HyeRan Kim-Cragg 21:44

Yeah, that's good. So let me let me share one of my favorite scholars, who is Musa Dube. She's a postcolonial feminist, New Testament scholar from Botswana, Africa. And she talks about the Bible that has a tendency toward imperialism. From the Genesis to the Revelations there are multiple imperial regimes or powers; from the Babylonian all the way through Roman Empires. And yet, she's saying, there's also always a practice of creative resistance against that. So the Bible has both Imperial move and motive and resistance against it. So, holding that aspects of Bible in tension is really, really important.

So, the reason why I think the people from the European descent going on a so-called “discovery” of the New World, and found themselves encountering the people who look so different and most obviously with the skin colour. And they needed to categorize those people somehow. And that's how this very notion of race as a difference came up. And for them when you have the only one religious tradition and live in that tradition for centuries, and only dominant religion, and that religion in that sense was not just one Sunday a worship service, but it's just a way of life, right? So all the things that they do in terms of their marking the days as well as living certain ways are very Christian-centered. And so, for them, Christian should be the religion, not a religion; it’s the definite, universal and therefore dominant.

Rev. Stephen Milton 23:55

It should be everybody's religion all over the world.

Prof. HyeRan Kim-Cragg 23:56

Yeah, yeah. And of course people who went out of Europe to see other places and Americas -- that includes North America, Central and Latin America -- all of those places have their own way of life, right, one of the culturally different and religiously, spiritually. I mean these are the core so people who had Mayan and other indigenous, the deep, deeply rich traditions and yet very foreign, very different from European Christians’ way of life. And one way to justify why they can take their lands is (to) have that hierarchy that somehow Christianity as a religion is superior to theirs; more civilized, more advanced than theirs. And so treating other religions and their cultures, their way of life to the point barbaric, and I should say satanic.

Rev. Stephen Milton 25:43

Yeah, I'd like to just break in here. Yeah, and satanic. Exactly. One thing that we should just footnote here is that in common culture we do have this idea that the Europeans arrived and they found Indigenous people who were living materially primitive lives. And of course it was a good thing that the whites came with civilization and all that stuff. But what we forget is that, particularly when the Europeans went to Mexico and South America, they encountered cities that were far more developed and astounding to their eyes than anything they'd seen in Paris or London. When they got to Cuzco, they found buildings literally coated in gold, gold plate all over the place. They saw masonry, they couldn't even understand how they did it, since there was no mortar holding the buildings together. Mexico City itself was an artificial archipelago, and they just couldn't believe it. Like, how could you even do that? How could you build a city like that? So we have to get over this idea that the Europeans arrived and they encountered a whole bunch of peasants who were just lucky that we arrived. On the contrary, like, the writings that the Europeans did, at the time, marveled at the incredibly advanced civilizations they were finding, particularly in the middle section of the Americas. And they were wondering, how did you do that? And especially for people who didn't have the same kind of system of writing. It was just astounding.

Prof. HyeRan Kim-Cragg 27:17

Yeah, absolutely. I think. So just a side note there, really supporting your wonderful wisdom here is I grew up in Korea, and the Korean history way back over 5000 years and the press, the printing press, was developed in 1234. So it's 1234. So I learned that during that time was a Buddhist kind of civilization in Korea, and they had amazing sacred scrolls, open scrolls of their text, that are printed using this very meticulous, advanced scientific printing press. But then later on, I learned that the European printing is the most noble, most advanced and that was 200 years later. So the very education of how certain things are developed and invented, were already very biased, very Eurocentric, as if Korean printing wasn't even there, right? Let alone Chinese printing is even before that, right. And so it's a very limiting and prejudiced understanding of how knowledge, how certain scientific inventions were coded. But in terms of going back to the Mexican, Mayan and Incan civilizations, there is very clearly during the European colonialism, and I call here three Cs, when the Christian missionaries went on to so-called civilization missions, there were capitalist explorers, and the government military ships went along. So those three Cs have to go together -- Christianity, Capitalism of that modern era, not now, but at the time, and the Colonialism as a symbol of the ship voyaging into the New World. And I want to highlight here, how the Bible, the very book, that tangible physical copy of the Bible was read during that. This is a Mexican liberation theologian, feminist, Elsa Támez talking about this, and I'm going to quote here.

“During the 18th 19th and 20th centuries, the Bible was used as a tool to conquer in many parts of the world. The reason why we need to pay attention to this particular period is because what happened then, still impacts the way in which we read the Bible today, in the post colonial era. The Bible continues to be used to legitimize war and violence today. Such foundational faith stories, as those in the book of Exodus and book of Joshua have fueled the political rhetoric of conquest, and continue to contribute to the conquest rhetoric in our own time, including the War on Terror after September 11th. So it is those during the colonial heyday of the 19th and early 20th century that the Bible travelled the world, a civilizing and colonial mission was accelerated through the dissemination of the printed English Bible to every corner of the world at the expense of local and indigenous languages.”

Rev. Stephen Milton 31:35

And as I recall, they had a practice, like the Spanish Conquistadores had this practice, where once they were satisfied that a tribe that they hadn't maybe conquered yet, had no idea about the story of Jesus Christ, then they could move in and impose everything on them because they needed to save them. It was this horrible Catch-22. Well, you're ignorant. Yeah, yeah. And there was some sort of document which they would read. I can't remember the name of it, [Requerimiento] but there was some sort of document which they would read. And I think it was usually a priest who read it, who would read it just before they moved into invade; to just give them fair warning that according to our king and pope, we can do this because you don't know anything about Jesus Christ. And don't worry, it's all gonna be much better for you once you do. It all makes sense as long as you start with the principle, we need to be in charge.

Prof. HyeRan Kim-Cragg 32:33
So one more quote, and then I'll talk something about how the same Bible that can be so oppressive can be also absolutely liberating. This is the beauty of the Christian faith. So the British Bible Society, who did support spreading the Bible all over the world, has a report he called The Book Above Every Book, and it's published in 1910. And he says so poorly, but clearly, “Not only the heathen, but the speech of the heathen must be Christianized.” So within that report, “Their language itself needs to be born again. Their very words have to be converted from foul meanings and base uses and baptized into a Christian sense before those words can convey the great truths and the ideas of the Bible.” So it's very blunt. Right? And so it's only 100 years old. So it’s haunting. I find that our ancestors did that.

However, here is a twist. And I love this because we are talking about modern colonialism that started 1492. Right? And the indigenous peoples, especially in the South America, won’t surrender, you know, passively. And, in fact, on the 500th anniversary, so 1992 at that time, the Pope was John Paul II. And apparently, he was visiting some Latino countries in South America, and a group of Indigenous people decided to present and declare that you didn't colonize us, kind of notion. And this is a beautiful language so I'm going to also share this as a great example of the resistance and the act, the performance of this decolonizing act was that they decided to return the Bible to the Pope. Isn’t that amazing? So, in the Bible was accompanied by a letter, which was read, and I quote here. “We, Indians of the Andes in America, decided to take advantage of John Paul II’s visit to return to him his Bible because in five centuries, it has given us neither love, nor peace, nor justice. Please, take your Bible, and give it back to our oppressors because the Bible was imposed upon America with force, European culture, language, religion, and values.”

Rev. Stephen Milton: Ouch.

Prof. HyeRan Kim-Cragg
But isn't that amazing? I mean these Indigenous leaders decided to do that in front of the Pope. In 1992. And I think the very force, the spirit of not succumbing, subjecting to that kind of oppression, is the very spirit that also inspired the Bible to be written. So it's really, I think, amazing. So going back to the paradox, and going back to the ambivalent, and the ambiguous of how we need to use the Bible.

Rev. Stephen Milton 36:57

And I guess it gets to that central contradiction, that the Bible, depending on how you read, preaches a message of peace and love and understanding, compassion and action. So that everybody can thrive. It's not that we can all be one, because that's just a flattening of all of our differences, but it's so that we can all thrive. And yet, the next step with that often is, everybody should have this. But it's not the sort of thing you can shove down anybody else's throat, as those Indigenous leaders said, right? You can't just throw the Bible at us, beat us up with it and expect us to be loving, wonderful people. You may want us to be submissive. You may want us to be slaves and never speak back to you. The Bible is certainly being used for that in lots of ways. But the idea of actually becoming what we would call good Christians, where you're genuinely loving and compassionate, that's something that every individual has to take on their own and cultivate on a personal basis. It's not something that can be legislated from above. So that, once again, is a tension between the message of the Bible and the Imperial impetus within the Bible, where it says, read this word to absolutely everybody all over the world. But when it doesn't quite say as clearly is, by the way, you can't shove it down their throat.

Prof. HyeRan Kim-Cragg 38:19

So again the dimension of the faith is both very personal; something that we each individual has to do about it, but also really political. So, there are racial bias and a prejudice could be personally felt and experienced, but ultimately, is systemic, is that structural side of the oppression, that justified, endorsed and perpetrate this oppression to keep going. So, as of people of faith, who believe in both personal and political, need to repent, if we are beneficiary of this racist system, but also change that system, so that so-called the Reign of God could be here and now on this earth. And I think the Bible in terms of this interpretation, in terms of how we use it, has the power to shape us and also allowing us to be critically probing it. The joy and the extreme gift of critical thinking, being able to question why that is happened, and deeply listening, as in learning from the past, from those who directly experience the impact by the sin of racism. And then find the wisdom and the resilience and resistance stance of all the oppressions embedded in the Bible. So the Bible has that. So as long as we know that the Bible has those really multifaceted layers of meanings within. And that's the norm, right? It's not a simple, single slate of the truth, but it has that multi-axial angles. Because the groups and the communities they represented in the Bible are so diverse. So we can't just narrow down into one group. And in Genesis, that talking about power, I mean, the Tower of Babel and that God said, No, we don't want to homogenize. We don't want one group doing all, right? So that scattered people and so that the differences are the way that we humans and other living creatures can thrive and flourish, rather than squeze into one box.

Rev. Stephen Milton 40:57

I think that that's a really interesting point because we tend to look at the Tower of Babel story as God's saying, “Nope. Humans are getting uppity. I'm gonna have to scatter them now. And you know, give them all these different languages.” But I like the way you put that, that this was God's way of saying, “No. Plurality is better than singularity.” And I think one of the things which we Christians need to get our heads around is that maybe it's a blessing. There's more than one type of faith out there because ours can go so far wrong, as we have seen, that it's good to have Muslims and Hindus and Indigenous people to say, “Excuse me. There's other ways of looking at this,” which may remind us that we're forgetting really important things in our tradition, and also in the end, how could God be simple? I mean, if God's anything, God's going to be complex. Just look at how complex the world is, right? So we have this desire to reduce everything down into a couple of simple formulas and that may make it easier to keep in your head but it doesn't mean it gets you any closer to either small reality or big “R” Reality. And so many people leave Christianity after Sunday School and never come back to find out there was an adult version they were supposed to stick around for, which is much more complicated and consistent with the kind of conversation we're having today.

Prof. HyeRan Kim-Cragg 42:28

That's right. That's absolutely right. And we are Trinitarian people, meaning that God and God in Jesus Christ and the guidance of the Holy Spirit are one, meaning, the very work of the Holy Spirit are something that is beyond our comprehension; that there are rooms for mystery, there are rooms for something that we can imagine --the world that is impossible to grasp right away. So, then the humility but also exploration. The sky is the limit. In that sense there are room to grow, and room to learn, and room to appreciate others who bring amazing gifts of their own. And how encountering those different traditions and groups and cultures, enrich our own. But also I will say, as a Christian, I am unapologetically Christian, and very proud of being Christian, despite our own Christian colonial legacies of white supremacy and racist legacies. However, when you and we encounter the others who are very different from us, this is when we need to articulate why we still follow Jesus Christ and why this is still worth doing. So I am extremely grateful for that kind of encounters, not so much that I just want to learn others. But it really finds me in my own way. It's almost like a mirror though those others are the mirrors that helped me to see who I am, where I'm going, and why I'm here. That kind of very, ultimately, fundamental questions of life, quest for life.

Rev. Stephen Milton 44:52

And what and what else we can be right? Like, it's so easy to define what a human being is, just in terms of our own narrow compromise, the sort of, oh, I've knocked out all these things I can bear being a human being like this. But when you meet other people who didn't make the same compromises as you did, you went, Oh, yeah. Human beings are actually pretty awesome. I just forgot, because I got too used to my narrow version.

Prof. HyeRan Kim-Cragg 45:19

Yeah. And ultimately when I mentioned about Trinitarian, theological view is ultimately God that I believe, is a relational God. In other words, God seeks relationship, and that's a song of faith. And so I cannot be who I am, until and unless I'm in relationships, right? I'm in relationship with my own spouse. I'm in relation with my family and children and friends. And that makes me who I am, right? So I cannot live alone. Nobody can live alone. And nobody die alone, hopefully not. So that in all entire journey from the birth to death we are the tapestry of our relationships. And their relationship shouldn't be so small and so narrow, and look like us only, because that's so small, right? And so, that kind of horizon of the relationships that often take the risk to getting to know those who are so called strangers. And again, you know, going back to the Bible, how many times we see the term strangers from the get-go to the end, and ultimately, God is the stranger; God is the other. We cannot be God. God cannot be us. But because of that difference, I think we become whole. We become more authentically who we are. All have its own unique gifts and differences. So and then in that sense, going back to the beauty of the Bible and that shows if we have special lens to look at that way.

Rev. Stephen Milton 47:21

Well, awesome. This has been a great conversation. Thank you very much.

Prof. HyeRan Kim-Cragg 47: 44

Thank you for the invitation.

Rev. Stephen Milton 47:46

Thank you very much. Peace be with you.

Prof. HyeRan Kim-Cragg 47:30


Judi Pressman 47:31

That was Reverend Rev. Stephen Milton of Lawrence Park Community Church in discussion with Professor HyeRan Kim-Cragg of Emmanuel College at the University of Toronto. Now, we're going to hear from our Lawrence Park Community Church choir singing the contemplation chant. This chant includes words from five different faiths.

(Contemplation Chant)

Judi Pressman 49:59

Thanks for listening today. The Rooster Crows podcast is produced by Lawrence Park Community Church in Toronto. We're a progressive Christian church located in North Toronto. If you'd like to explore our sermons, services and other offerings, please visit our website at www.LawrenceParkChurch.ca. If you have any comments, please let us know. Our email is on the website. My name is Judy Pressman. I'm the church Program Manager and this podcast is edited by Luke Farwell. The music intro and closing music is provided by our Music Director Mark Toews. Peace be with you.