Unshackling the Imagination: J. Kameron Carter on Structural Injustice, Misery and Melancholy, and the Theology of Race (Podcast)


Unshackling the Imagination: J. Kameron Carter on Structural Injustice, Misery and Melancholy, and the Theology of Race (Podcast)


The Table (podcast - audio sound recording). 46 mins 39 seconds long.

Description from the host's site Center for Christian Thought, Biola University:

"So Jesus steps inside of that and lives a life of sheer life. And that itself was the critique of the political order. So what did they try to do? Kill him. They killed him, but then they discovered that they’re trying to kill what’s unkillable. Christians call this the resurrection. The death of Jesus wasn’t necessary. It was the cultural reflex against a form of life that did not need death or its negative other to anchor.”

J. Kameron Carter does theology with urgency. Why? Because he reads these times as urgent. His theology is responsive to the moment we’re in. In this conversation, we discuss the black experience of a structurally anti-black world; the meaning of belonging and communion; how race factors in America’s struggle for belonging to each other; the difference between black misery and white melancholy; and the presumption of comfort and alleviation of suffering that whiteness assumes. We also cover atonement theology; the erroneous logic of false ownership; and the unkillable, vibrant life of Jesus the slave. J. Kameron Carter is Professor of Religious Studies at Indiana University Bloomington, author of Race: A Theological Account, editor of “Religion and the Future of Blackness,” and is currently at work on his next book, Black Rapture: A Poetics of the Sacred.

Show Notes

3:50—On his name (and what the J. stands for)
6:44—On suffering, the tension between the wound and the blessing, and Harriet Jacobs’ “loophole of retreat”
9:30—“That negotiation between what we might say the tension between the wound and the blessing, it marks black existence insofar as anti-blackness is structurally the condition of possibility of the society that has come to bear the name the United States of America.”
9:58—Harriet A. Jacobs on her “loophole of retreat”; a reading from her Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl.
12:14—On structural and individual racism
12:46—Rodney King: “Can we all get along?”
18:10—On skepticism toward structural problems, structures that create conditions of misery, and the presumptions of whiteness
22:54—“What I think we have talked ourselves into is a claim that might go like this. Suffering and misery are always already, they are never not racialized.”
24:25— Ad Break: “Charting a Course Through Grief” A free 8-week ecourse with a variety helpful resources on grief. cct.biola.edu/grief
27:10—On the logic of atonement, a structure of misery and melancholy, a new cultural imagination, and the way forward
29:49—“What if the death of Jesus was about the destruction of an imagination that pits life against death and death against life altogether? What if it’s the destruction of that?”
34:57—On Jesus’ incarnation and Christianity’s need to move against itself
37:15—On false ownership, “Christian supersessionism,” Jesus as slave within a particular structure of domination, and Dostoevsky and the illegibility of God
39:21—“The structure of ‘It belongs to me and not to you’ took on the veneer of colonialism, generating what we now call race. Racism is a specific iteration of Christian supersessionism of the gentiles. It’s a theological problem.”


Hosted and produced by Evan Rosa
Resource of the Biola University Center for Christian Thought, which is sponsored by generous grants from the John Templeton Foundation, Templeton Religion Trust, and The Blankemeyer Foundation
Theme music by The Brilliance
Production and Engineering by the Narrativo Group. More info at Narrativogroup.com
Edited and mixed by TJ Hester
Production Assistance by Kaleb Cohen
Follow: @EvanSubRosa / @BiolaCCT / cct.biola.edu


J. Kameron Carter


May 2019

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J. Kameron Carter, “Unshackling the Imagination: J. Kameron Carter on Structural Injustice, Misery and Melancholy, and the Theology of Race (Podcast),” Anti-Racism Digital Library, accessed November 23, 2020, https://sacred.omeka.net/items/show/259.