The Chester and Mary Paluch Lecture: “Understanding the Roots of Racism in U.S. Society: An Historical Overview and Biblical Reflections”

by on April 11, 2018

Dr. Sung presented the first of a two-part series treating the contemporary societal and ecclesial issue of racism within a theological perspective. Her lecture provided an historical account of the construction of a society organized by racial classification, from its origins through events in recent years. A comprehensive overview was set forth, representing the indigenous and immigrant peoples who settled the country and recounting key figures, actions, and events that profoundly shaped the political, legal, and economic positions and relations of the respective groups on the whole.

Viewed in relation to the nation’s aspirations as expressed in its founding documents, awareness of that collective past and its cumulative effects in the present cannot but be deeply troubling for those who profess those ideals. Vis-à-vis “race,” this vastly complex national history obviously resonates with biblical teaching about the postlapsarian human condition. However, it also bears a great resemblance to the biblical portrayal of individuals and institutions in the course of redemptive history. Scripture and the tradition offer a different outlook, suggesting that Christians might begin to face such realities in a way that avoids the common pitfalls of ordinary human reactions and unexamined cultural assumptions that fall short of a distinctively Christian disposition.

The Fall 2018 Paluch Lecture will build upon this lecture, drawing on biblical models and insights from moral theology to sketch a constructive way forward.