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D Magazine reports on an interesting conference:

Perkins School of Theology will host a seminar on April 12 at Perkins Chapel on the topic, “God Loves Diversity & Justice.” Here are the self-descriptions of the panelists:

“A Human and Feminist from Gaza, Palestine”
“A Jewish Prophet”
“An Exilic Chinese-American”
“A White American Working-Class Feminist”
“A Feminist Muslim Lawyer”
“A Transethnic Korean-American Feminist Theologian”
“A Progressive White Male German-American Theologian”
“An African American Communications Professor”
“A Jewish Russian-American-Israeli Hebrew Bible Scholar”

I looked at the flyer and that is indeed how they identified themselves. Here are some random thoughts I had after reading this list of panelists:

* Are there any feminist—even from Gaza—that are not also human? Because if they have some space alien feminists on the panel that would make for a really diverse conference!

*Who knew that a “Jewish Prophet” could be found at a Baptist university (Baylor) in Texas? Is he a major prophet or a minor prophet? (Since, like Obadiah, I have never heard of him or read anything he wrote, I assume he’s in the minor leagues.)

* If someone is “Chinese-American” then they are American, right? So if a Chinese-American is “exilic”—in a state or a period of forced absence from one’s country or home—are they being exiled from the United States? And if that’s the case, how can they attend a conference in my hometown of Dallas (which, last time I checked, was still in America)?

* Is the “White American Working-Class Feminist” also a human? I’d normally assume she was, but maybe she isn’t and that’s why the feminist from Gaza felt the need to clarify.

* I wonder if “A Feminist Muslim Lawyer” is a Sharia lawyer. (Probably not, huh?)

* According to Urban Dictionary (the only place I could find a definition), a “transethnic” is a person that is born to one ethnic background but seemingly belongs to another through their actions. Does that mean that “Transethnic Korean-American” is person who is born as a Korean-American but, through their actions, belongs to third group? If so, what’s the group? Why leave us in suspense? (And while we’re at it, maybe they could also clarify where they are in that whole feminist-human thing.)

* If someone identifies as a German-American wouldn’t you assume they were white? And what’s up with the white folks on the panel making a point to clarify their whiteness? Is it a matter of White Pride (i.e., they’re closet racists!) or are they just trying to say, “This panel is so diverse that it even includes white people.” (I suspect it’s the latter.)

* The inclusion of the “African American Communications Professor” smacks of tokenism. Not because the panel includes an African American (that is fitting in this context) but because the organizers invited a communications professor . Let’s be honest, are there any academics who consider people in the communications department to be real scholars? Of course not. It’s like journalism, a made-up field that nobody really respects. (Note: I’m an adjunct professor of journalism so please don’t tell my dean I just said that.) The only reason they would include a communications professor is so they organizers could say, “You know how diverse our panel was? It was so diverse that we even had a communications professor .” and then smirk impishly when their fellow academics gasp and admire their cheekiness.

* The “Jewish Russian-American-Israeli” scholar seems to have a hard time narrowing down that whole nationality thing. Dude, you can only live in one place at a time. Just choose one.

* Only four of the panelists identify as feminist? Are the other five saying that they are not feminist? Also, eight of them didn’t identify as human. Suspicious, no?

(Via: Rod Dreher)

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