Marginality By: Jung Young Lee is one of the most profound books I have read. Every page draws more insights into the lens of those marginalized by society. Lee is able to take a word that has been used as a one-dimensional, negative term for articulating a people group and not only make it three-dimensional but establish a positive marginality for all.
Based on the author’s first hand experiences of living on the margin, he invites the reader to learn through a personal journey of the margins. He articulates what the realities are for those of color and how it could be different with the refining of the understanding, terminology and practice of margin in context to the current practice of centrality. Lee introduces a new theological foundation rooted in marginality. Through the parable of a Dandelion he expounds on the struggle of the Asian-American experience while also laying out the historical situations that brought the first Japanese, Chinese and Korean’s to the shores of America. Through an intense amount of vulnerability and historical facts Lee articulates the story of many who have been unheard. From the example of Christ to healing of suffering through suffering, Lee challenges the reader to reimagine a world where the margins redefine the center.
Through this book centrality is define based on the margins, in other words “without the center there is no margin; just as there is no center without the margins. They are mutually relative and co-existent” . Centrality is also defined as the dominate, white, and church force with holds the power and oppresses those on the margins; “In the history of civilization, the center attracted humanity more than any other thing in the world, for the center has been understood as the locus of power, wealth and honor” . Where as those at the margins are defined mostly as those who are oppressed by their race, class, gender, sexual orientation or socio-economic status.
From a pluralistic societal stance, Lee explains that for marginality theology to be a place of freedom rather then oppression, we have to look at our society being one grounded in pluralism; the belief that rather then one being in-between the Asian and the American or even the Anglo and the American they are born-into the a society where being both/and is affirming definition of one’s identity rather then a negative definition.
By changing the axis by which we find identity based on the limitations of the dominate norm, Lee believes that once marginality is embraced and thoroughly understood that Jesus was the ultimate marginalized person we as God’s children will find true liberation and creativity in our marginality rather then our centrality. The human experience of Christ among the centralized group, gives voice to the humiliation, region, loneliness, suffering and pain many feel on the ‘outside.’ From Lee’s perspective it is no longer acceptable to find one’s identity in the main stream, acclimation will never truly...