Enfleshing Theology honors and engages the life work of M. Shawn Copeland, whose theology is groundbreaking and prophetic, traversing the fields of Catholic Theology, Black Theology, Womanist Thought, and Semiotics. The book opens with a brief introduction, and then moves to an interview with Copeland, which connects her theology to her life stories. The conversation with Copeland also provides a backdrop to the seventeen essays that follow, extending Copeland’s theological worldview. The contributions are divided according to the following sections: embodiment, discipleship, and politics. The essays in the section entitled "Engaging Embodiment" critically reflect on the importance of embodiment in Christian theology and contemporary culture. Following Copeland’s lead, authors in this section theorize and theologize the body, particularly (but not limited to) Black women’s bodies, as a locus theologicus that reveals, mediates, and shapes the splendor and suffering reality of human existence. The next section, entitled "Engaging Discipleship," focuses on the concrete challenges of following Jesus in today’s world. The essays included in this section reflect on Copeland’s focus on Jesus’ particularity in terms of his solidarity with and for others. Discipleship is about modeling and mentoring, so scholars in this section also comment on Copeland’s contribution to teaching and pedagogy. The last section, entitled "Engaging the Political," interrogates the political implications of the theological. It is noteworthy that there are two trajectories of the political here, one is Copeland’s development of political theology through the lens of Canadian Jesuit theologian, Bernard Lonergan. The other trajectory focuses on the work of theology in contemporary art and politics. These three sections are fluid and overlap with one another. Several of the articles on embodiment speak to questions of solidarity and a few of the essays on discipleship clearly present as political. The ways in which each of the contributions in this volume overlap with each other attests to the complex nature of doing constructive theology today, and even more how Copeland’s work is at the forefront of that multi-layered, polyvalent, intersectional theological work.
Robert J. Rivera is assistant professor of theology at St. John's University.
Michele Saracino is professor of religious studies at Manhattan College.
Introduction by Michele Saracino
An Interview with M. Shawn Copeland, with Robert Rivera and Michele Saracino
Part 1: Engaging Embodiment
1. “A Body of Broken Bones”: Shawn Copeland and the New Anthropological Subject - Roberto S. Goizueta
2. “Today a Black [Wo]man Was Lynched:” A Womanist Christology of Sandra Bland - Eboni Marshall Turman
3. Mapping Methodological Directions for Womanist Scholarship - Katie G. Cannon
4. Learning to Enflesh Freedom: Returning to the Clearing - Laurie Cassidy
5. Black Eucharist: Practical Discipleship for the Human Race - Susan Abraham
6. Black Lives Matter as Enfleshed Theology - Stephen G. Ray Jr.
Part 2: Engaging Discipleship
7. “Enacted Discipleship” as Christian Anthropology - Mary Ann Hinsdale, IHM
8. Standing at the Foot of the Cross - Nancy Pineda-Madrid
9. Enfleshing Freedom: A Christological Focus on Discipleship in Light of the Crucified Jesus and Black Bodies - Shawnee M. Daniels-Sykes
10. Zora Neale Hurston’s Moses, Man of the Mountain and Biblical Studies - Deirdre Dempsey
11. To Be a Thinking Margin: Reframing Christian Intellectual Life - Willie James Jennings
Part 3: Engaging the Political
12. The Significance and Singularity of M. Shawn Copeland’s Methodology - Susan L. Gray
13. God’s Image Revealed in Authentic Living: Mutual Enrichment through the Drama of Theological Education across Cultures - Kathleen Williams, RSM
14. White Supremacy and Christian Theology - Karen Teel
15. The Dark Night(s) of Malcolm X: Apophatic Mysticism and African American Spirituality - Bryan N. Massingale
16. Disturbing the Aesthetics of Race: M. Shawn Copeland and the Justice of Beauty - Maureen O’Connell
17. Drawing Close to Bodily Pain and Grace: Copeland, Social Sin, and Solidarity’s Incarnational Imperative - Christine Firer Hinze
Selected Bibliography of M. Shawn Copeland
Capturing the scope of this towering voice is a challenge, but the editors and contributors provide an excellent glimpse into the critical features of Copeland’s insights. . . . This collection of essays is a thorough introduction to the theological sophistication of Copeland’s thinking. Those contributions that freely deviate from a specific read of Copeland but rather highlight the range of her theology to address other topics beyond religion and theology proper add to the posterity of the volume. Because the authors represent a range of intellectual, theological, and religious disciplines, Enfleshing Theology is a must-read for scholars who value Copeland’s contribution to Catholic, black, and womanist theologies. The book is also accessible for the layperson seeking a stronger foundation for the application of faith to contemporary social issues linked to race, gender, and religion.
A stunning compendium of insights! With great originality and verve the essays wrestle, take deep dives, and run with Copeland’s intuitions into new territories. More than simple tribute, this excellent, heartwarming book shows the far-reaching influence of an extraordinary theologian whose thought benefits all of humanity, those without dignity most of all.
This fine collection of diverse voices captures the essence of Copeland’s clarity, creativity, and commitment to a theology that cares for creation. This village of scholars captures the broad terrain of Copeland’s theology as truth-telling and invites the reader into critical deep engagement with it. We are the better for it if we accept their invitation.
This collection of essays on Shawn Copeland’s work is magnificent. Copeland is a must-read author in Black theology, and this group of essays demonstrates her importance and influence in and beyond Black Catholic theologies. This volume honors Copeland and it also honors its editors and authors. Magnificent!