My three years at McCormick were absolutely instrumental in forming me as both a pastor and a theologian. While it would be difficult to point to one specific event, or class, or relationship that itself sent me down the multi-vocational path I find myself on (as both a now third year PhD student and newly ordained pastor of a tiny congregation), the questions that formed for me during “Race, Culture, and Privilege” continue to inform my trajectory. As a person of multiple privileges attempting to do theology and pastor, I am immediately confronted by my reading of Matthew 5: 23-4:
“Therefore, if you bring your gift to the alter and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift at the alter and go. First make things right with your brother or sister and then come back and offer your gift” (CEB).
Reading this passage from my positions of privilege compels me to focus on the powers and principalities granting me unearned privileges at the expense of my fellow image bearers of God. From this troubling, I find myself seeking to understand and analyze the cultural production of intersectional identities that oppress in my academic work. I hope to problematize colonial constructions of white masculinity and work towards not just deconstructing these ultimately unstable and fluid identities but to also offer alternative methodologies for constructing new masculinities using the philosophical concepts of assemblage and becoming- developed by Gilles Deleuze and Feliz Guattari, particularly as they are being read in contemporary Queer and Intersectional theories. In a somewhat related vein, I find myself seeking to find ways of seeking solidarity in the midst of global imperial regimes of power and subject production.
Now, what gets really interesting is when I try to bring these commitments to my congregation in the near south suburbs. Being a new pastor in this context, in the midst of discerning what God is doing in our midst while navigating changing local demographics is certainly proving to be a challenge. It is my hope to be able to successfully integrate my academic work and my ministry in order to help us understand our collective privileges and seek justice and love for all of our neighbors.
Rev. Jon Phillips worked as an architect for several years until he was called to McCormick Seminary. He graduated in 2012 was recently ordained as head pastor of Evergreen Park Presbyterian Church. Jon is currently working on his PhD at Chicago Theological Seminary and referee-ing for Chicago’s Windy City Rollers. You can follow him on twitter @jonmphillips