Coffee with Kenji Kuramitsu


Kenji1Kenji Kuramitsu has a list of activities and accomplishments paramount to a 40 year old. That said, I am very confident McCormick Theological Seminary in Chicago feels very fortunate to count Kenji among its students. He is a 5th generation Japanese American born in the suburbs of Chicago. Marginalized for his asian heritage, he was further isolated as the child of an LGBT parent. It will take no listener long to appreciate the translation of his last name – “arsenal of light.”RSS Pointer

Kenji3Conversation ranges from Bill Nye the Science Guy to the murders of Kenji Goto and Freddie Gray. On one hand, I look at all of the wonderful gatherings Kenji is participating in, all of the wonderful education being exchanged – and I am thoroughly encouraged and inspired. While I am, on the other hand, simultaneously stunned to consider the violence, injustice and close mindedness in every state and country. I cannot help being motivated to listen, pray and act for compassionate justice and full equality. May we do this together?

If you watch where Kenji makes sure he shows up then you will recognize that his compassion extends far beyond simple advocacy for people groups he fits into. Kenji isn’t just advocating for his own justice. Even as a young man he has a track record of being a next-generation-voice of justice for all. One of the places he has worked to affect systemic change was as a co-editor of the Theology of Ferguson anthology, which served as an online resource for people of faith seeking to faithfully engage with the Black Lives Matter movement. Is there more that we could be doing where we all are? What are some perhaps small but significant ways that we can each take a stand and advocate for women and minorities?

I swiped the following explanation of all the things Kenji is doing at the fast-approaching Wild Goose Festival from his blog – A Real Rattlesnake. Definitely check out the blog and all places he’ll get investing time around the United States this summer.WildGooseFestival

“I’m participating in a lot of fun things at Wild Goose this year:

  1. The day before the Goose, I will be facilitating a daylong pre-festival workshop with several friends and colleagues called the Racial Justice Institute. Check it out here! As an anti-racism educator, I am very excited about this gathering, and I actually think this event will be worth coming to Wild Goose itself. We have a few free tickets to give away for friends, so please let me know if you’re interested.
  2. I’m going to be on a panel about diaspora and Asian American/bicultural identity with theologian Soong-Chang Rah and filmmaker SueAnn Shiah, which I’m getting psyched about. I have never seen many Asian American and/or Pacific Islander speakers or attendees of the festival, so this should be interesting.
  3. I’ll be speaking to the youth participants of Wild Goose about claiming our ancestral heritages to fight racism, in a workshop called “All In God’s Image: You Contain Multitudes.” Only young ones allowed, but if you are an interested parent I’m happy to pass along my notes.Logo Retro
  4.  I’m going to be participating in a fishbowl discussion with some fellow LGBTQ+ Christians on how to handle faithful engagement and disagreement in conversations around human sexuality and the church in a session called “Oriented to Love.”
  5. My friend Austen and I are leading a workshop on liminality in terms of gender and race. Here’s the description: Join transgender theologian Austen Hartke and Japanese American educator Kenji Kuramitsu in sharing stories of social liminality as we inhabit “betwixt and between” spaces. We’ll be considering the middle grounds of race, gender, faith, and sexuality as we highlight relevant characters from scripture and throughout church history. This will be a “mixed-methods” workshop using stories as a point of departure for creating authentic and healing theology, and encouraging participants to explore and voice their own social locations.

    Wild Goose 2015
    Wild Goose 2015
  6. I’m joining worship leader (and my boss!) Gary Rand and other creatives in a Christian worship session on Friday night that will incorporate spoken word, carpentry (really), and sacrament to challenge unjust the social structures that depress and dehumanize us.
  7. It looks like I’ll be a part of a panel with my friends AnaYelsi Sanchez, Micky Scottbey Jones, and Jim Wallis about racism in America.”

Links:

McCormick Theological Seminary

COLAGE

The Reformation Project

Japanese American Citizens League

Kenji Goto Murdered by ISIS

Kenji Kuramitsu’s Blog

Black Lives Matter

How Jesus Saves the World from Us: 12 Antidotes to Toxic Christianity by Morgan Guyton

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