Selected Essays and Articles by Karen E. Park

Confronting Christian Anti-Semitism One Mascot at a Time

Sojourners Magazine, May 24, 2019

The Catholic Church, and all Christians, must admit that our tradition contains within it both the history of anti-Semitism and the theological potential for its ongoing justification. Our language matters, and our mascots matter.

How a 15th Century Book on Witchcraft Helps Make Sense of Trump’s Bizarre Baby Execution Story

Religion Dispatches, April 29, 2019

The language of truth and falsehood is misapplied in this case, since Trump’s statement about “beautifully wrapped babies” being killed by their mothers can be neither backed up nor disproven with evidence—it wasn’t intended to be. This story is outside the realm of verifiable claims and instead must be understood as a deliberate act of fantasy and mythmaking about the despised and loathed “other” (in this case, women.)

Is #Metoo Misogyny “Unbiblical?” Southern Baptist Women Test Limits of Biblical Inerrancy

Religion Dispatches, June 8, 2018

If Southern Baptists and other conservative Christians want to challenge the misogyny in their institutions, then they should of course be applauded and supported. But their call for change will remain problematic as long as they simultaneously claim Biblical inerrancy as their reason for this call. We would all do well to remember that Biblical inerrancy as it’s understood by Southern Baptists and many other evangelicals today is a very recent development in Christian history. It’s also a doctrine that belies centuries of sophisticated Christian exegesis.

Trump and Evangelicals: No Works, Just Words

Commonweal Magazine, September 12, 2016

Trump may be exactly what these sixteenth-century Catholic theologians were worried about. Protestants responded to the Catholic objection to salvation by grace alone with “by their works shall you know them.” In other words, Christians will do good works because they are saved, not in order to be saved, and by this standard, Luther wouldn’t have recognized Trump as a Christian any more than the pope would. Trump’s good works didn’t lead to righteousness, and if he is indeed a Christian, no good works have flowed from that commitment.

Make Spain Great Again! The Transhistorical Ties Between Donald Trump and Christopher Columbus

The Los Angeles Review of Books, March 14, 2017

The only valid questions Trump can ask (though he uses a third grade vocabulary to do it) are: “Who will submit to this narrative, my a priori knowledge of what is true, and who will not? Who will obey my authority when it comes to the truth I possess?” This is why he calls all news reports which challenge his statements “fake news.” According to his finalist strategy of interpretation, news stories that present actual truth can only be fake. They cannot be true because they contradict what he already knows. And by the way, if you are a Trump follower, staffer, or journalist who would like access to press briefings, like a member of Columbus’s crew, you must also accept this formulation. 

What We Think about Guns Reveals What We Think About God

Sojourners Magazine, July 21, 2016

 If my myth reveals an all-powerful God and a world where “everything happens for a reason” then of course human agency is limited. People are either good or bad and God is mostly in control. But if God doesn’t exist or exists but is instead imagined as a mystery, a being who works through creative processes and loving engagement rather than overt control, then human agency is maximized and the hard divisions between the “good people” and the “bad people” will be blurred. A mostly good person in a state of rage or despair might choose to a terrible thing on a particular afternoon, and limiting his access to guns will limit the damage he can do.

How Trump Got Absolved by A Widow’s Suffering: Caryn Owens as Victim Soul

Religion Dispatches, March 1, 2016

On Tuesday afternoon, President Trump refused to take responsibility for the Yemen raid which resulted in the death of Navy Seal Ryan Owens. By Tuesday evening, he had been fully absolved of both Owen’s death and the botched mission. The vehicle for this absolution and transformation was the body of Ryan’s widow Carryn Owens, who, during Trump’s speech to Congress on Tuesday night, stood looking heavenward for a full two minutes of applause, tears streaming down her face as she spoke to her dead husband. In those moments, Donald Trump and the entire nation were absolved by the redemptive suffering of a female saint.

%d bloggers like this: