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Book Review

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Sang Hyun Lee. From a Liminal Pace: An Asian American Theology. Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2010. 200 pages. ISBN-13 ‏:‎ 978-0800696689

In his From a Liminal Place: An Asian American Theology, Sang Hyun Lee, a Korean American theologian, presents his practical theological analysis of the Asian American context, especially its bicultural nature. Two concepts are significant in his wring; liminality and marginality. Based on symbolic anthropologist Victor Turner’s positive conception of liminality, Lee argues that being situated in two different cultures is a profound and complex experience. In other words, it would naturally create a kind of in-between situation for life, or what may be called cultural limbo. This in-between situation then pushes someone who is in the midst of it to a place of liminality where new or creative possibilities of life are born. Lee believes in particular that this experience of cultural liminality in the Asian American context can produce three invaluable benefits: 1) openness to the new or hidden potentials of society, 2) the emergence of communitas, and 3) a creative space for prophetic knowledge and subversive action. Lee realizes that since Asian American Christians live in this unstructured, open-ended liminal space, they have a certain potential to come up with very new spiritual ideas, social structures, and cultural expressions that can contribute to the breadth, depth, and width of the existing society’s cultural life. Besides, these new hybrid Asian American Christians can help the emergence of communitas where people from all racial and ethnic groups would, together, create a community of harmony, justice, and peace. Last, but not least, thanks to the freedom from and critical response to the existing social structure, the Asian American Christians living through liminality could possibly serve as the prophetic agents of God vis-à-vis the oft-unjust dominant culture.


Originally published in The Journal of Asian American Theological Forum (AATF), vol. 2 no. 1

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