One Good Friday
A Re-Focusing of Moral Imagination
AbstractWhat does it mean to be privileged? This is a deceptively tricky question. At first, one might suppose the answer to be what anyone would want: to live a beneficial life. But this answer leads to still further questions: a life beneficial for whom, to whom, or in what way? It leads to questions that ask us to look closely at our relationships with others, to look deep within ourselves at the presuppositions we carry about who we are and who others are too. It can also lead to questions that also ask us to reflect widely on systems that structure these relationships and are the unseen bearers of meaning. And if this line of inquiry seems provocative for the ways we view society, it seems all the more so for our Church. Our answers must therefore supply something more than a simple dictionary definition; they must respond to an implicit invitation to grow. This paper first asserts that for such growth to occur, one must awaken to the presence of interlocking systems of privilege and their impact on our perceptions of reality. We cannot remain indifferent. (This not an easy task for those inculturated to believe their perspective and experiences are normative.) And once awake, what then? Overcoming such internal resistance to change requires a robust and resilient moral imagination. Exploring ways to strengthen our moral imagination is therefore important for a healthy dynamic of spiritual growth. It helps to clarify our moral vision, enabling us to see ourselves and others as we really are. To ready ourselves we must enlarge and “relax” our hearts, since inclusivity and spiritual maturity spring from an acceptance of the other as “other.” In this process, the stories and iconographies of the Christ shared by womanist and black theologians are essential. They will enrich our understanding of the wisdom tradition, aid us in refocusing the lenses of our conceptual framework, and invite us all home to the mystical body of Christ.
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