The wisdom of la frontera: a Christology from and for the intersticies
Taylor, Laura Michele
My dissertation research looks at the “problem of difference” in theological constructions of Christian identity. In particular, it explores George Lindbeck’s “cultural linguistic” understanding of religion, which suggests that the singular language and culture of one’s religion shapes and defines human experience rather than the reverse. Although Lindbeck’s postliberal approach seeks to maintain a stable sense of Christian identity in the face of intra- and inter-religious differences, I argue that by withdrawing the possibility that human experiences can influence one’s conception of religion (in full or in part), Lindbeck assumes that Christian identity must be virtually homogenous in order to maintain unity and stability. Comparing Lindbeck’s work to anti-immigration rhetoric that seeks to protect the “American” culture and the primacy of the English language, I draw on the works of Latina theologians and Mexican-American women living in the borderlands to illustrate the ways in which the dominant homogenizing categories ultimately silence the voices of those persons whose identities are extended over multiple cultures, languages, ethnicities. Next, I illustrate the ways in which an understanding of Christian identity bound up with difference can shift the theological conversation from border protection to border crossing. Such an understanding, I argue, requires a multidimensional Christology that takes seriously the ways in which the interrelated identity categories of race, class, gender, sexuality, and so on are continually at play. Finally, my work seeks to lay the groundwork for an interstitial, performative Wisdom Christology that not only provides an “option for the in-between,” which speaks to the daily ordinary struggle (la lucha) of all people who live and survive in physical and metaphorical border locations, but also suggests that the solidarity of Christians requires a celebration of differences rather than an imposed sameness.