The Housed, the Homeless, and the Right to be Somewhere
PLT Contributor Jennifer McBride released her newest book on March 1, 2017. The product of her participation in the Virginia Seminar, Radical Discipleship: A Liturgical Politics of the Gospel (Fortress Press) engages the social evils of mass incarceration, capitol punishment, and homelessness, connecting liturgy, activism, and theological reflection with Christian discipleship that stands in solidarity with those whom society despises and rejects. The book arises out of McBride’s extensive experience teaching theology in a women’s prison while participating in a residential Christian activist and worshiping community.
Christian Century is currently featuring an excerpt from the new release on her time at this residential Christian community, the Open Door. In the article, McBride writes:
“When Open Door members invite homeless people into their home, perceived enemies become friends. Those friendships in turn expand and transform space, not only during Holy Week as they give us entrance to the streets where we would not otherwise go, but also in our everyday lives as we see homeless friends around the neighborhood and in adjacent localities—in all the various places where their presence is scorned at worst and tolerated at best. Because of these friendships, I am more likely to speak to other homeless men I do not yet know, further expanding the possibility of friendship and a mutual sense of belonging.
The streets are intimate but not safe or desirable; they are familiar but not spaces of belonging—not a home. Nor are they the shared space of belonging—the space of social flourishing and transformed relations—that defines beloved community…
The journey toward beloved community begins with this transformation of space that resists alienation and exclusion. It begins with the creation of shared spaces of belonging, which may come in various forms, from services of Morning Prayer to houses of hospitality. For the housed, it includes a journey toward the streets, a journey of embodied lament that makes the fight for decent and affordable housing—the repair of the world—urgent and concrete.”
The full excerpt is now available on Christian Century‘s website here, while another version appears in their March 15 print edition as “Homeless bodies.” For more information on the book, click here.
Jennifer M. McBride is Associate Dean for Doctor of Ministry Programs and Continuing Education and Assistant Professor of Theology and Ethics at McCormick Theological Seminary in Chicago, IL. She is also the President of the International Bonhoeffer Society – English Language Section. Her other publications include The Church for the World: A Theology of Public Witness (2014).