This course creatively reworks the Christian idea of incarnation, “God becoming flesh,” in light of U.S. mass incarceration. It also examines the political dimensions of Christology, as they illumine issues in contemporary mass incarceration. Special focus on what beliefs in “God becoming flesh” could mean in relation to the human suffering of long sentences, isolation and abandonment, rape, torture, and despair—and sometimes resistance and hope—in U.S. prisons and detention centers.
Theoretically, the technology of U.S. imprisonment is read as a site of crossing for white racism and imperialism; the historical backdrop is read through decolonial criticisms of the “coloniality of power” (Quijano, Mignolo, Matsuda). Theologial readings draw from diverse prison writings about Jesus, as well as from prison-related Christological reflections of Barth, Bonhoeffer, Moltmann, Ellacuria, Sobrino, and other theologians. Not only recommended for chaplains in prison ministries, but also for those seeking critical analysis of Christian faith in relation to the “1 in 100” U.S. residents now behind bars.