I often say to my congregation, “We are not individually salvageable.” Salvation, in my view, is not individual but collective. The only thing that will save us, as empire systems come crumbling down, is deep, sustained relationships, not just with those like us, but across every line of difference. We are going to need each other.

I believe that we go to church (or to any other faith community) not to affirm and preserve our identities – whether black, white, gay, straight, working class, middle class, or whatever – but to be transformed, alchemized through deep full-on engagement with each other, into Holy Spirit-infused community with the power to confront the forces of empire in solidarity with each other and with those living in the margins of the city outside our doors. This process will require each of us to lay on the altar some parts of who we believe ourselves to be – parts that don’t serve the flourishing of all life. This is not multiculturalism but what I call interculturalism. Multiculturalism places cultures side by side; interculturalism involves the alchemization of cultures into something entirely new.

In order to understand why multiculturalism is so utterly insufficient as a model for Holy Spirit-infused community, we have to look at how “whiteness” functions to appropriate cultures and consolidate power. Whiteness is not a culture in itself. There were no ancestral “white people” with a “white culture”; rather, there were scores of cultures that have been assimilated into whiteness in a move toward power.