Professor of Theological and Social Ethics, Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary, California Lutheran University and Graduate Theological Union
Pandemic of Inequity, Potential of Epistemic Conversion
In the United States four crises rage at once – Covid-19, climate colonialism, racial inequity, and economic violence. All are either unprecedented or have reached unprecedented levels of public attention. All have implications around the globe. All are rendered far more deadly – both within the United States and in their reverberations around the world – by the demonic deceptions and manoeuvres of the current administration, yet are rooted in centuries of hegemonic manipulation to concentrate wealth and power in a few hands despite the brutality inherent in doing so.
The co-incidence of these four is not accidental. While Covid-19 came before the outburst of holy rage at four centuries of violent policing of black bodies by white power structures, that outburst was fed not only by recent murders of black people by white police forces, but also by the unveiling of Covid-19’s racialized death toll in the US. How the US responds to this constellation of crises has life and death consequences around the globe.
This essay argues that: 1) the four crises are linked by their provenance in the extractive, exploitative corporate-and-finance-driven, fossil-fuelled economy; 2) life-giving liberating response to these four crises entails commitments to build a more equitable and ecological economy; 3) the church in the United States – while called by the gospel to build the new economy — is profoundly ill-equipped to do so because the hegemony of white supremacy linked to capitalism is baked into its bones; and 4) epistemological conversion may be a gateway to heeding God’s call to radical economic restructuring as a necessary foundation for meeting the four-fold crisis of our time.