This semester’s Wiley Lectures speaker brought a twist to the Brewed Awakening structure, bringing conversations to PLNU that will continue to benefit this campus’ look at theology and social justice. Brian Bantum is an author, speaker and professor of theology at Seattle Pacific University. His visit to PLNU brought discussions of theology and social justice to the Wiley Lectures and to Brewed Awakening.
The Brewed Awakening series, run by the Center for Justice and Reconciliation, creates platforms for speakers and students to discuss contemporary social issues, combining their passion for justice and faith. Brewed Awakening is usually structured with a speaker talking about their actions born out of passion for justice, but last week’s event was especially unique because the speaker was interviewed by students.
Kaelia Russell and Joshua Speakes are both senior Christian studies majors, and together they interviewed Bantum at last week’s Brewed Awakening. The conversation covered a range of ideas, including some of the experiences associated with being racially mixed, the role of the church in justice, and how to continue these conversations.
Highlighting one of Bantum’s main points in the discussion, Kaelia Russell says, “Something that really stood out to me was this talk about truth being a movement, a song already being sung…So when you see the church getting stuck in their older ways that causes them to die, that is when they need to allow God to do a new thing.”
Bantum said that people should not abandon old theological resources because “these are the ways that God has moved,” but we can find new patterns that help us today. Bantum also touched on the idea of mediocrity. “As people of color, we do not have the freedom to be mediocre.” He told the group about his experience with not being great in social situations; that it would be nice to not have to be great socially without worrying about not getting a promotion.
These are only two facets of the discussion, but Bantum stressed that justice and faith are intertwined, and that these conversations will help people honor one another as they are made in the image of God. “Freedom is over there, and I’m going that way. You can walk with me. If you wanna grow, I will walk with you.”
Shane Hoyle is a sophomore Literature major who attended Brewed Awakening. When asked what his big take-away from the conversation was, he said, “We need to hear that our bodies matter, but not all of us are treated the same way. I don’t think that being blind to color, gender or identity is an appropriate response.”
In order to carry on these conversations about how faith and justice coincide, Kaelia Russell said, “We all as a people need to stay curious, to always be teachable by those around us. To have a mindset that we need each other to see God more fully, to be more of who God made us to be. When we assume we know what is right, that we know everything, or even if we are too afraid to address our ignorance, we miss the true nature of God, we miss the truth underneath the lies of this world.”
Bantum ended the discussion with encouraging the group to continue our look at justice as a way of who we are and how we act. “I encourage you to think of justice as not complete, but a way of existing, a way of being, a way of existing in your own life there things need to grow.”