• After Whiteness: An Education in Belonging

  • Theological Education Between the Times
  • By: Willie James Jennings
  • Narrated by: David Sadzin
  • Length: 6 hrs and 5 mins
  • 4.7 out of 5 stars (30 ratings)

1 title per month from Audible’s entire catalog of best sellers, and new releases.
Access a growing selection of included Audible Originals, audiobooks and podcasts.
You will get an email reminder before your trial ends.
Your Premium Plus plan is $14.95 a month after 30 day trial. Cancel anytime.
Buy for $19.95

Buy for $19.95

Pay using card ending in
By confirming your purchase, you agree to Audible's Conditions of Use and Amazon's Privacy Notice. Taxes where applicable.

Publisher's Summary

Theological education has always been about formation: first, of people; then, of communities; then, of the world. If we continue to promote Whiteness and its related ideas of masculinity and individualism in our educational work, it will remain diseased and thwart our efforts to heal the church and the world. But if theological education aims to form people who can gather others together through border-crossing pluralism and God-drenched communion, we can begin to cultivate the radical belonging that is at the heart of God’s transformative work. 

In this book, Willie James Jennings shares the insights gained from his extensive experience in theological education, most notably as the dean of a major university’s divinity school - where he remains one of the only African Americans to have ever served in that role. He reflects on the distortions hidden in plain sight within the world of education but holds onto abundant hope for what theological education can be and how it can position itself at the front of a massive cultural shift away from White, Western, colonial, and cultural hegemony. This must happen through the formation of what Jennings calls "erotic souls" within ourselves - erotic in the sense that denotes the power and energy of authentic connection with God and our fellow human beings.

After Whiteness is for anyone who has ever questioned why theological education still matters. It is a call for Christian intellectuals to exchange isolation for intimacy and embrace their place in the crowd - just like the crowd that followed Jesus and experienced his miracles. It is part memoir, part decolonial analysis, and part poetry - a multimodal discourse that deliberately transgresses boundaries, as Jennings hopes theological education will do, too.

©2020 Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company (P)2020 Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company

What listeners say about After Whiteness: An Education in Belonging

Average Customer Ratings
Overall
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    26
  • 4 Stars
    1
  • 3 Stars
    2
  • 2 Stars
    1
  • 1 Stars
    0
Performance
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    19
  • 4 Stars
    2
  • 3 Stars
    3
  • 2 Stars
    0
  • 1 Stars
    0
Story
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    20
  • 4 Stars
    1
  • 3 Stars
    2
  • 2 Stars
    1
  • 1 Stars
    0

Reviews - Please select the tabs below to change the source of reviews.

Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Game Changer

For anyone concerned with the trajectory of western education, and theological education in particular, Willie Jennings puts forth an itinerary for pilgrimage into the lands and spaces we have failed to call holy inviting us to see with new eyes how our common formation can make us into new peoples.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Compelling Call For Intellectual Revolution

This book is amazing. The narration is excellent. You will need to buy the book to gaon the full benefit of the colorful and thought jarring poetry.

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

A tall order

I struggled to understand and to relate to much of this book, but the poems and stories interspersed with the dense intellectual content, plus listening on Audible instead of reading pages, kept me going to the end. I hope his vision gains traction in theological and general education circles.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Spiritual formation as belonging not mastery

I have read several articles and a couple of books by Dr. Willie James Jennings, but I was not sure this book was really for me. On its face, it is a book about theological education. I am not in theological education, and I do not anticipate ever being a professor or teacher. I decided to finally pick it up after someone on Twitter talked about it as a discussion of spiritual formation, whether in or outside the academy. I am interested in spiritual formation. I commend listening to Dr. Jennings’ interview with Tyler Burns on Pass the Mic podcast or Wabash Center’s Dialogue on Teaching Podcast, which have very different interviews but are helpful to get at what the book is doing.

Jennings posits that Western education in general, but theological education has a model that emphasizes three virtue: possession, control, and mastery. These three virtues are generally assumed to be ‘masculine’ virtues, and as Jennings discussed in his previous book, Christian Imagination, these virtues are also identified with the colonization project. Because we are an individualized culture, these values are about asserting the individual as the one who is master and self-sufficient. To counter this image of the self-sufficient master of educational knowledge, Jennings takes the image of Jesus, who gathers together many who would not choose to be together if it were not for the desire of all of them to be near Jesus. Jennings’ corrected imagination rooted in Jesus’ ability to gather people together suggests that the point of theological education in particular, but western education in general, should be rooted in belonging, not exclusion, hence his subtitle, An Education in Belonging.

Part of what Jennings is addressing here is that the soul is not formed primarily through information. We are not, as James KA Smith suggests, ‘Brains on a stick’. Theological education, while it does include information, must have as a primary focus spiritual formation. And that spiritual formation, because it is a significant aspect of theological educators’ work must be concerned not only with the theological education of its students but also of its faculty and staff and the institutional aspects of its community.

Like many, this is a book that I should read again. Spiritual formation matters. But so do the institutions that help form the pastors that lead the congregations that spiritually form the future generations. What keeps being emphasized in my reading on racial issues is how long these issues stick around. Again, my grandfather was born a year before Harriet Tubman died. She escaped slavery in 1849 but lived until 1913. My grandfather, born in 1912 lived until 2005. If I, not yet 50, have a grandparent that overlapped with people that were adults in slavery, it is likely that there are ongoing implications for historic racial realities. My mother was born three weeks after Ruby Bridges. The school my mother would have gone to for kindergarten did not integrate until the year before I was born. Ruby Bridges and others of her generation that were the first to go to integrated schools are just now starting to retire. Our senior seminary professors, who are teaching the new generation of pastors were likely early in the integration process and some probably did not go to integrated schools. It would be odd to think that all theological education has been ‘fixed’ to solve the historical issues within those that are currently teaching.

My seminary education included a systemic theology professor that was a liberation theologian. But there are not a few seminaries that have not done much if any work to addresses their curriculum. It is only a couple of years ago that Masters Seminary made news because it was possible to have gone the whole way through without having a book assigned by any authors that were not White. And I think that is more common than many believe. I am in a 2.5-year part-time graduate-level certificate program. Up until this point the only book I have been assigned that by a non-White author is a Brazilian theologian writing about the Lord’s Prayer in an elective class. I am planning on taking a class about Mary Shawn Copeland, again an elective, and presumably, we will read at least part of one of her books. But that is probably 2-3 books out of all of the books I have been assigned over the past 2 years. The problem of theological formation orienting toward white experience as normative is still a very present problem.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

A beautiful, challenging & inspiring call to create a new pedagogy of communion.

This is a book - an extended poem of possibility - that points the way towards a true glory. And while ostensibly written for teachers of divinity, the reflections, wisdom and revelations are powerfully relevant to participants in all forms of education. We can overcome colonial formation if we are courageous enough to have faith and venture into the power and depth of communion. Highly recommended for all educators and students!