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Theological Day of Reflection

SimonMary A. Aihiokhai, Ph.D.Deconstructing the Idolatry of White Supremacy: Embracing a Trinitarian Identity as Solidarity With Others

  • By: SimonMary A. Aihiokhai, Ph.D.
  • When: Apr 29 at 12:00pm (online and in-person)

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Grounding our identity in the Trinitarian vision allows us to see ourselves as a creatures radically defined by webs or relationships. This talk aims to deconstruct identities of exclusion that have come to define whiteness as a mode of being in the world. To do this, a decolonial lens will be used to look closely at how White supremacy has played out in our world as an identity marker radically defined by notions of scarcity and aridity of imagination. This talk also aims to articulate new ways of seeing ourselves as citizens for each other in a world that is deeply relational with the intent to address the traumas instantiated by systemic racism and other related structures of discrimination playing out in our country and our world.

Dr. SimonMary Asese Aihiokhai was born in Nigeria. He received his undergraduate education in philosophy at the Spiritan School of Philosophy, Nigeria (1997). He began his initial studies in theology at the Spiritan International School of Theology before migrating to the United States to continue it at Saint John Seminary, Camarillo, California, where he earned a graduate degree in theology with a focus in medical ethics (2007). He obtained his Ph.D. in systematic theology from Duquesne University (2013).

Dr. Aihiokhai is currently an associate professor of systematic theology at the University of Portland. He is the coordinator of the university’s Theology Thursday Lecture Series. He is also a Fellow at the Westar Institute. Dr. Aihiokhai has worked extensively with communities at the margins in Nigeria and in the United States of America. He has held academic positions at Loyola Marymount University; Valparaiso University; and Saint Leo University. As a product of multiple contexts, he is intentional at creating spaces for multiple perspectives in his research and teaching. His research focuses on Religion and Identity; African approaches to ethics; African philosophies, cultures, and theologies; religion and violence; comparative theology; themes in systematic theology; and interfaith studies.

Among his published works, include a monograph, titled, Fostering Interreligious Encounters in Pluralist Societies. Hospitality and Friendship (Palgrave Macmillan, 2019); an edited volume, ten book chapters and twenty-three peer-reviewed articles in reputable journals. His works have been published by Routledge, Palgrave MacMillan, Paulines Press (Africa), Oxford University Press, Cambridge Scholars Press, and several peer-reviewed national and international journals. His next book explores the contributions of women of color to the Woman Suffrage Movement (Rowman & Littlefield, 2021).

Dr. Aihiokhai will gladly tell you that at the heart of all that he does as a theologian is to create space for God’s life to be experienced by all in our world.
At his leisure time, he can be found playing with his blind Siberian Husky named Hope.

Rev. Dr. Danjuma Gibson, Ph.D.Demythologizing the Work of Freedom: Reimagining our Vision of Theological Praxis By: Danjuma G. Gibson, Ph.D.

  • By: Danjuma G. Gibson, Ph.D.
  • When: May 6 at 12:00pm

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This talk invites participants to demythologize the lives and work of various 19th and 20th century freedom fighters and revolutionary thinkers such as Fannie Lou Hamer, Ida B. Wells, and Martin Luther King Jr. (to name a few). The insurrection on the nation’s capital in January 2021 disrupted the national illusion of racial progress and innocence. We are not who we thought we were. The quest for equity and freedom is threatened by a recent surge in white supremacist and white nationalist ideology. The Christian mandate to love our neighbor and seek justice is failing under the weight of self-interest and indifference.

Using the tools of practical theology and psychohistory, this talk seeks to humanize these historical personalities. Our current situation in 2021 is not new. It represents cycle of hatred that must be disrupted. Instead of seeing these historical personalities as great and untouchable heroes, we are better served by demythologizing their lives in a way that allows us to see our common joys and concerns across generations. Our national propensity to romanticize the lives of these historical figures is misguided and only undermines our will to act and the moral agency to “do good, seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, [and] plead the widow’s cause.”1 Alternatively, humanizing them guides us to life-giving praxis and redemption.

Rev. Dr. Danjuma Gibson, Ph.D. is a professor of pastoral care at Calvin Theological Seminary, and is in private practice as a psychotherapist in Grand Rapids, MI. His most recent book — Frederick Douglass, A Psychobiography: Rethinking Subjectivity in the Western Experiment of Democracy (2018) — is an investigation into the formation of Douglass’ psychological and religious identity in the context of trauma and the American slavocracy. In addition to psychological trauma, Dr. Gibson’s current research includes exploring the intersection of urbanism, black religious experience, psychoanalytic discourse, and socioeconomic influences. Dr. Gibson earned his Bachelor of Arts from Morehouse College, Master of Business Administration from DePaul University, Master of Arts in Urban Ministry and Master of Christian Studies from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, and Doctor of Philosophy from Garrett Evangelical Theological Seminary. He holds memberships in the American Academy of Religion, The Society of Pastoral Theology, the Society for the Study of Black Religion, and the Association for Clinical Pastoral Education.

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For more information about either event or to register for the 4/29/21 lunch, please contact Eileen Klein at 716.286.8520