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Nashville’s Only ‘Transqueer Latinx Neurodivergent Public Theologian’
Liam Adams covers religion for The Tennessean, a Nashville newspaper. Most journalists are leftists, but you might think that perhaps a religion writer for a southern newspaper might be an exception. Or, perhaps not. Last April, Mr. Adams published an article that began with the following remarkable paragraphs:
Robyn Henderson-Espinoza is the only Nashville-based transqueer Latinx neurodivergent public theologian that they know.
“I don’t know anybody like me,” Henderson-Espinoza, who uses gender-neutral pronouns, said in an interview.
Yet, it was only recently when Henderson-Espinoza, 45, got to know their self better, such as the diagnosis that they are on the autism spectrum.
I know what you’re thinking: “C’mon – Nashville is known for its musicians, its nightlife, and its transqueer Latinx neurodivergent public theologians. What’s the big deal?
Me, however – I was a bit more skeptical. Dazzled, actually. I didn’t know that it was possible for one person to be that diverse. Boy, oh boy, was I wrong. Robyn seems to be the culmination of decades of, um, work – all leading to a magnificent specimen of diversity that is so magnificent that it warrants this paragraph (I refer you to your well-thumbed copy of LGBTQ Religious Archives Network):
Robyn is a lifelong Baptist who has been involved in LGBTQ justice work since college. Having been the only queer and gender nonconforming person in their college classroom, Robyn has always spoken from margin to center. As a mixed-raced Latinx, Robyn has been bridging together both anti-racism with LGBTQ advocacy for two decades. As an out Transqueer person who studied theology, Robyn found that the institutional church to not be a place where they flourished. Leaving the institutional church to do faith-rooted justice work meant that Robyn continued in their theological training, culminating in a PhD in Constructive philosophical theology. Robyn has been trained by Baptists, Roman Catholics, and Methodist scholars and holds three degrees in theology with an emphasis in queer theory and Latinx studies. For the last ten years, Robyn has been vigilant in naming the culture of whiteness of the LGBT movement. In particular, the ways that the institutional church has focused so acutely on their welcome & affirming stances has allowed Robyn to name the culture of dominance, which has been expressed in & thru whiteness. In an effort to decenter whiteness and intentionally widen the circle of Movement work to include people of color and other marginalized folks, Robyn is devoted to participating & curating an assemblage of Movement work that is grounded in the politics of radical difference.
(This biographical statement provided by Robyn Henderson-Espinoza.)
So you may think that he/she/it is just another Nashville transqueer Latinx neurodivergent public theologian, but I think it’s clear that this is the GOAT in its field. A Ph.D. in Constructive Philosophical Theology who decenters whiteness and intentionally widens the circle of Movement work. Holy mackerel.
Robyn (previously Roberto) is a consulting faculty member of Duke Divinity School. From Duke’s website:
Roberto Henderson-Espinoza, Ph.D. has been described in a myriad of ways: a scholar-activist, scholar-leader, thought-leader, teacher, public theologian, ethicist, poet of moral reason, and word artist. Among these ways of describing Dr. Henderson-Espinoza, they are also a visionary thinker who has spent two decades working in the borderlands of church, academy, and movements seeking to not only disrupt but dismantle supremacy culture by focusing his Ph.D. studies on new concepts of being and becoming, decolonizing knowledge production, and bridging with radical difference.
Dr. Henderson-Espinoza was named one of 10 Faith Leaders to Watch by the Center for American Progress in 2018. As a scholar-activist, Dr. Henderson-Espinoza is committed to translating theory to action, so that our work in the borderlands reflect the deep spiritual work of transforming self to transforming the world.
Check out that last sentence. Where are “the borderlands”? What exactly is, “the deep spiritual work of transforming self to transforming the world”? Does all that mean going to places that don’t practice your faith of transsexualism and convincing them to worship the way you do? Is that evangelizing?
Perhaps I’m misreading this. I really don’t understand. But I think that’s what it means.
A lot of my atheist friends say that they don’t mind Christians believing in a God that obviously doesn’t exist. But they are very critical of evangelistic Christians, because they try to convince others that this God exists. They say that the silly beliefs of Christians go from goofy to dangerous when they start trying to convince others to see things their way.
And then those same people generally accept and even assist evangelical transsexuals. These people pretend to take their pronouns seriously. They invite them to speak at their children’s library. They appoint them to prominent positions, to create a façade of legitimacy, and then challenge anyone to risk public ostracism by resisting their efforts to spread their gospel.
It bugs me that those who promote sexual practices that are discouraged by The Bible attempt to use the authority of The Bible to lend legitimacy to their message. They’re using the church to move people away from Christian teaching.
Note that I don’t care what anyone does in their own bedroom, or in their personal life. That’s between them and God. I probably have habits that transsexuals wouldn’t care for, which is fine, as long as we stay out of one another’s business. This is private stuff, after all.
Suppose I like Ohio State football, and don’t care for Michigan football. That’s fine. Until I become a preacher or a theologian and claim that my preferences are found in The Bible, and start “work in the borderlands reflect the deep spiritual work of transforming self to transforming the world.” That’s when we have a problem.
I like to think that a transqueer Latinx neurodivergent public theologian would agree with that. But for some reason, I don’t believe he would. Or possibly she. I’m not sure. I really don’t understand this stuff. And I’m fine with that. I don’t understand Michigan fans, either, but we’re great friends. It’d be boring if we all thought the same thing. I’m fascinated by our differences, and I celebrate them.
But don’t make yourself so diverse that you’re untouchable and then pressure me to validate your faith. That’s when your intolerance of western culture and Christian faith goes from goofy to dangerous. That’s when we have a problem.
Jesus taught us to love our neighbor. Not tolerate our neighbor. No — we should love our neighbor. Please, Robyn, love me even if you disagree with some of my views, just as I love you. We’re all just doing the best we can here. I wish you the best. I really do. I hope you find your path, wherever it leads you. And I hope that you encourage me in the same way.
I love you, even if I don’t practice your faith.
Please extend the same love to me. Just love me the way I am.
The intolerance of the left is getting scary. If they view anyone who disagrees with them about anything as deplorables who need to be fundamentally transformed, then this is going to get worse and worse.
I hope Robyn can see that someday.
Hopefully someday very soon.
This is getting scary.Published in General
Funny how queer theory and Latinx studies never came up when I was studying the Greek New Testament or writing my dissertation on Augustine. I guess I must have been doing it wrong.
I learned this song from Hugh Hewitt. It has a really catchy tune:
I don’t give a damn about the whole state of Michigan;
The whole state of Michigan;
The whole state of Michigan;
I don’t give a damn about the whole state of Michigan.
I’m from O-hi-O.
Know it? I think it kind of fits. I do wish they’d just leave us (and the children!) alone.
Robyn has three degrees in Theology.
How many do you have?
Yeah, and “Robyn” is probably leading the charge in “student loan forgiveness,” too.
One there, but two in philosophy.
As many have said, so many times, “you can’t make this s**t up!”
Meanwhile, the Babylon Bee just had to round-file another “fake” story they’d been working on.
I expect it’s pretty easy to get a degree in transqueer Latinx neurodivergent public theology.
What do Jesus and the Apostles teach about how Christian believers are to treat someone who claims to be a Christian believer and who either: (1) persistently sins, or (2) teaches falsehood claiming that it is Christianity?
Doc, I don’t think that your live-and-let-live doctrine will cut it. That’s not love.
Bet she has some great Bible interpretations. Time for me to scurry back to the cathedral.
Why, you something-or-other!
It would be an interesting exercise to consider that individual’s history: at some point in his life he stopped functioning or being able to function in the world as it exists. Whatever could have happened to prompt that? I wonder which institutional church didn’t suit him first? However I would bet that being the foremost in that field pays very well. And – there is little competition to check that box.
Finally – being of a prurient mind, I wonder if you are queer if no one wants to be queer with you. It’s hard to imagine any queer happening for him.
It sounds to me like Robyn worships itself. But I don’t have any degrees.
If you did, you would worship yourself, too.
Take it from me. I’m a doctor.
Robyn may think she is a uniquely special, but Sarah Jane was far ahead of her. Sarah Jane went to college and started the lesbian eskimo midget albino student union, and 400 people signed up.
Because they had the best parties!
No, it isn’t fine.
This is garbage academic-speak, and until a critical mass has the stones to call it out for the nonsensical language it is, we will continue to have damaged people declaring themselves some kind of superheroes.
Can someone tell me what “neurodivergent” is supposed to mean, . . . and what it actually means? Because I think it’s essentially “I’m mentally-challenged, and that makes me better than you.”
I think the whole point of all this is that his only qualification as a “thought leader” is his uncontrolled psychiatric disease.
Nietzsche wasn’t this crazy.
We can all have as many degrees as we want, in “being myself.”
Oh, please. Like you don’t know how to decenter whiteness. Why, I curated an assemblage of Movement work this morning before breakfast! This radical difference makes total sense.
neurodivergent sounds like it could be related to mental divergence…
Nietzsche is dang awesome.
I think he’s one of the most brilliant men who ever lived. His understanding of human nature was absolutely profound. Still, he was insane.
Bonkers. But brilliant.
Now that part I actually do understand. It’s the same as the Gandhi line–“Be the change you want to see in the world.” The first step to fixing the world is to fix yourself.
Well, . . . no objections there.
Perhaps he was neurodivergent.
“Neurodivergent” is new to me. Are we sure it didn’t mean “theodivergent”?
I think instead they want to readjust reality to suit themselves.
Van Gogh’s other brother?
No, I’ve seen that word before. It’s basically turning those with psychiatric distress into an identity group.