Esau McCaulley’s Reading While Black, While Chinese American – A Book Review

Reading While Black: African American Biblical Interpretation as an Exercise in Hope. By Esau McCaulley. Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2020. Pp. 208. $22.00.

For those who are used to my rantings, it is mainly around (Mainland) Chinese Christian theology or World Christianity. This is about something quite different: Esau McCaulley’s Reading While Black. I have heard a lot about this book. As I read it, it stirred quite a lot in my own thinking as a Chinese American Christian (exiled in the UK).

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Transitions in AAR Chinese Christianities

This week, I submit the post-AAR (American Academy of Religion) conference report for the Chinese Christianities Unit, marking my final task as co-chair of the group. I step down not because I am less interested in the group or the field, but mainly due to AAR policies around leadership rotation. While I will undoubtedly pop my head into sessions as they progress, my formal relationship with the group I co-founded in 2014 has come to an end. It has been journey and, over the course of the 7+ years, I have learned quite a bit.

I started the group because of the absence of such a venue in the premier learned society in the study of religion. I had been attending AAR for a few years and always found it hard to find colleagues researching what I thought was a really important academic field: Chinese Christianity. I remember presenting a paper in one AAR and, after the session ended, one audience member asked, “So, are Chinese now able to produce their own theology?” Um… were you here when I delivered my 20min presentation on academic theological discourse in China? I remember leaving that session thinking I needed to find others researching Chinese Christianity.

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Reckoning with the “Ecclesial Diversity” of Chinese Christianity

By Easten Law

Ecclesial Diversity in Chinese Christianity (Pathways for Ecumenical and Interreligious Dialogue) edited by Alexander Chow and Easten Law. Published by Palgrave Macmillan, 2021, 239 pages. ISBN-10: ‎3030730689, ISBN-13: 978-3030730680. Hardcover and Kindle versions available on Amazon.

When Alexander Chow (University of Edinburgh) and I began assembling and editing the diffuse essays that make up the recently published volume, Ecclesial Diversity in Chinese Christianity, we were not expecting any significant shifts in our scholarly outlook. This was to be a simple book that provided snapshots of Chinese Christian life around the world with a nod to the historical and migratory links that connected them.

As we worked, however, the sum of the volume’s parts turned out to weigh much more heavily on our minds than we expected. We considered the historical contingencies that shaped Protestant and Roman Catholic conceptions of God in China; wondered at the ways Chinese Christians reshaped their faith overseas in places like Malaysia, the United Kingdom, and Canada; and revisited the ways Chinese Christians in the mainland shifted their religiosities in response to political priorities and urbanization.

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AAR 2021: Chinese Christianities Unit

We are glad to have another year of the AAR Chinese Christianities Unit, albeit running in an online format. While details are available in the online program book, I have also included them here.

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Andrew Walls (1928–2021)

I am quite heavy-hearted from the news of Andrew Walls’s passing. He founded the Centre for the Study of Christianity in the Non-Western World (now, the Centre for the Study of World Christianity), which I am a part of and now co-direct. So, at a basic level, I would not have a job if it weren’t for him. But on a deeper level, he has shaped a lot of who I am.

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