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In this episode, Christina Edmondson–Dean for Intercultural Student Development at Calvin University and co-host of the Truth’s Table podcast–reflects on the potential for refugia on college campuses. We also consider the virtues and difficulties of virtual refugia.

For more background…

Dr. Christina Edmondson

Find the Truth’s Table podcast website here.

Here is Christina’s website.

And here is the Intercultural Student Development Office at Calvin University.

Transcript

Debra Rienstra: Today I’m talking with Christina Edmondson, the Dean of Intercultural Student Development at Calvin University. Christina has a PhD in counseling psychology and she is an accomplished speaker and prophetic voice on topics such as anti-racism, inclusive excellence, and Christian leadership–among other things. She’s also the host–one of the hosts–of the Truth’s Table podcast. Christina is with me today to talk about creating refugia for college students, about the university setting itself, and about other spaces of cultural refugia.

Hey, Christina.

Christina Edmondson: Hello. Hello.

DR: I’m really honored that you welcomed me here today.

Christina Edmondson: Absolutely. Absolutely.

DR: We’re in your office on Calvin’s campus. Tell us about the Intercultural Student Development Office. What is your work here all about?

Christina Edmondson: Oh, yes. Thank you for asking that question. So my work is about serving the entire student body so that they become more aware of their own cultural identities, and how God providentially has shaped that and shaped culture and their cultural identity. But also the way in which sin impacts our cultural identities and certainly the ways in which our sinfulness impacts our neighbors and so, and so, and how that works out, right?

So we want to, we want to critically discern that, we want to enjoy our cultural differences, and we also want to resist sin that causes us to have a distorted view of self and others and therefore a distorted view of God. So, so that’s like kind of a theological nutshell of the work. And what that looks like on the ground is self-development initiatives and cultural awareness initiatives and support initiatives for students who are, who have been historically underrepresented in higher education and specifically at Calvin College. And so I get to work with a group of really amazing, talented people who make me seem more competent than I am, and a lot of scrappy, type-A people, which helps my type-B personality and balances me out. But they, those particular shops, have a focus on either first-generation college students, international students–we have a significant international student population–or American ethnic minority population, what we call AHANA student populations here at the college. So those are the folks that I work with.

DR: Yeah. We have a pretty significant international percentage here at Calvin for our size.

Christina Edmondson: For sure.

DR: How are we doing on AHANA students?

Christina Edmondson: Yeah alright. Typically and for the last several years our American minority numbers have, are typically just a touch higher than our international numbers. We are at probably about 30 percent non-white, non-American students, within that kind of, that collection of 30 percent here at the college. And so for, for a private institution in, certainly for a private Christian institution, we will consider those to be comparatively strong numbers for, for us. We want to be representative of the country. We want to be representative of the Kingdom, which is incredibly diverse in many ways, and we want to most importantly–more so than quotas or numbers–resist any strongholds or stumbling blocks that we are institutionally upholding, intentionally or unintentionally, that make it less likely for diverse students to come and to learn in this space.

DR: Yeah. So what are the most difficult challenges that our students face in trying to learn and thrive together, especially for those who feel themselves included awkwardly or not at all in the dominant campus culture? What do these students long for?

Christina Edmondson: Oh, well, you know, I think, we think about just basic human, human longing is around identity and inclusion and community and acceptance. So that happens on this micro level in higher education the same way that would happen in a family system or in society. And so our students, regardless of ethnic or racial background, it’s not uncommon for any student to enter into higher education with a lot of self-doubt, and wanting to fit in and find their place, right, and along with find their calling, you know, this vocational ideal. All that’s happening, right? And so as that, as that is happening, we know that for students who are historically underrepresented, they are dealing with their own, their own experiences of externalized racism, but internalized racism too at times. And they’re also dealing with our, what’s happening institutionally for us but in the larger ecosystem of the country or the countries–the global system. And so we have found over the last few years that our students are not only impacted by what is happening in the residence halls and in the classrooms in terms of can they see themselves in the curriculum, but also by what rhetoric and experiences that they’re encountering outside the classroom in the media, the news, and politics in America. So we have a high level of anxiety. This is the post 9/11 generation and our students really need our support and our ability to say, no, there’s a place for you and you actually are what makes this place worth being in.

DR: So yeah, great. So we’ve been talking about the idea of refugia on this podcast, on this podcast, and translating that idea from its origin in the field of biology to more spiritual and social applications. So we’ve been thinking about refugia as places of shelter in threatening or difficult contexts as you were just describing, places where life persists and regrows in healthy ways and then opens out to spread and alter the surroundings. So I wonder if we could think of this office as a kind of refugium.

Christina Edmondson: Mm-hmm. I would love for it to be.

DR: Do you see students experiencing it that way?

Christina Edmondson: There are students who have talked about this office–or really, really the people–that the people in a particular space that represent that refugia for them and which shows the power of connection to another person. I think that some of the metaphors in higher education literature about what spaces like this or in other institutions–kind of your black student union or your multicultural center or whatever–people have used the kitchen table analogy. And I know that in my home the largest table I have that seats 10 people is my kitchen is my kitchen dining room table. And I think of it as representing that and, and as a mom that’s what I wanted to represent for my children. It’s very important that I cultivate or help them to cultivate these memories of being at that table to eat together, to laugh together, to grow together to go through our funny jokes together. To get frustrated with crossword puzzles together and, and puzzles of all kinds together. And I think, I think it’s an, I think it’s an apt metaphor to describe what these types of centers are supposed to be. They’re supposed to be kind of kitchen tables where the student can grow and be nourished and just, just be, while nearby is this person who represents some sense of stability, some lookout person. So in this metaphor that’s like Mom in the kitchen making the food and, and the student is able, the kid in that metaphor is able to kind of do homework and say something about my crazy day. Because there’s this parent that’s nearby and things seem a bit safer. And that parent doesn’t have to even interact a ton. We have some students who will come near to the space to study. They ask no questions whatsoever. I mean they may not even make a kind of eye contact, but I think it’s something about the space in the sense of feeling like there’s a person here who’s kind of a lookout who’s made sure that it was okay and they’re maintaining some degree of like, harmony and peace in the space so I can learn and I can thrive here.

DR: It’s remarkable that it’s even just the space.

Christina Edmondson: Just the space.

DR: Yeah, and of course that table metaphor has this beautiful resonance with the communion table.

Christina Edmondson: Yes

DR: For Christians.

Christina Edmondson: Yeah. Absolutely. Absolutely.

DR: Nice. So what are some ways that your staff and students are creating or equipping life-giving spaces that can transform the larger campus.

How does this office as a refugium then spread?

Christina Edmondson: Yeah, so I think this is that in different ways, that one of the programs that pops out as soon as you asked that question–along with other ones represented in the office and just outside of my, my portfolio–but just throughout the college but one of the programs is the John M. Perkins Leadership Fellows Program and one of my staff persons who has served us for a few years now, Kieychia Likely, she helps to oversee the student development pieces of that. And that program intentionally targets first-generation college students. It’s named after John Perkins and around his work on racial reconciliation and community development, so a Christian community development organization. And we bring together what we hope is a diverse group of students with diverse vocational interests and majors to be community to each other. And as a bit of like, their job is to be a seed that gets planted into the institution for it to grow and to ripple out and to impact the ecosystem. So to influence their roommates and to influence their classmates and to influence their professors.

DR: We need it, too.

Christina Edmondson: Exactly, we’re always learning right? So the best professors are like, always students and they’re learning from, from their students and from everything they can get their hands on. So that comes to mind when I think about having this group of scrappy, deep-well students that come to this community where it would be very easy to feel like an outsider by kind of Calvin’s cultural variables, this kind of Reformed theological tradition, Dutch Reformed, and there are many ways in which we can feel like it’d be a very exclusivist place. But to have these, these students who are in many cases first-gen students from varying backgrounds and experiences come and say, no actually I have a purpose here. And that’s to season you all, to be salt and light in this, in this school while I’m learning from you. And I’m grateful but also I’m here to actually impact the ecosystem. And they have rose to that challenge in a variety of ways. So that’s one student group that comes to mind but there are other student groups likewise and just students individually who through their struggles and triumphs have helped to shape the culture of the college.

DR: Yeah. It’s remarkable that here at Calvin only 30 percent of our students are now Reformed or from Reformed background.

Christina Edmondson: Yeah

DR: That doesn’t necessarily correspond to white but it often does.

Christina Edmondson: Yeah.

DR: And we have 30 percent non-white and yet the numbers are less important really than the history and the context and the systems.

Christina Edmondson: Right.

DR: So it’s not just about numbers. It’s about that history, that tradition that we’re still trying to regrow.

Christina Edmondson: Exactly. Well, and I think at our best what we’re doing is translation work so that we are able to see the elements of our theological tradition that the college holds to, that we’re able to help students to find their tradition within it, in different ways and different, just different language. You know, like, and I mean there are traditions that are like, oh, that’s not what we call it. We call it something else, but we’ve been talking about that for a long time, you know. Or they’re able to add to it or to notice our holes and deficits because we, you know, we can be an echo chamber, an echo chamber and we can’t see ourselves unless we are in conversation or experience with something different. So I think that’s the strength and benefit. And it also forces us to know what we really believe because when you have people who are from a different tradition or religious identity, they press you. That it’s not just like oh, we just, this is just true because I just said it’s true. They make you, they can force you to tighten your belief system, to evaluate your belief system. So I’m really grateful for those students who are like, what are you talking about?

DR: Me too.

Christina Edmondson: Where did you get that from? Then I’m like, oh, let me go, let me go study. Make sure I know what I’m talking about.

DR: Iron sharpens iron.

Christina Edmondson: Amen.

DR: So, let me quote, quote you from an article in Comment Magazine. Here’s the quotation. You wrote, “Certainly higher education creates a space for deep learning about the self, others, and the world through approaching the complex and interrelated new and old disciplines. Therefore for many acquiring higher education is the very folding chair that gives access to the metaphorical table.” So there’s that table metaphor again. So, I wonder if we could expand this idea of a refugium outward to the university setting in general where we try to work together to practice inclusive excellence. And is that possible? Can we think of the university that way or is it too big and complicated, too full of obstacles to be in its own way a refugium?

Christina Edmondson: I think we can, I think we can certainly choose to think about it that way and also acknowledge the truth about the pitfalls and roadblocks that are inherent in the ivory tower so to speak, right, of higher education of academia, right? So it is historically and presently, you know, associated with a type of elitism. And I think–but that doesn’t mean that we can’t envision something beyond that, you know, so I think we can hold all those truths together: the vision and hopes of what we wanted to be an awareness of where we have these, these stumbling blocks and also acknowledge its history as kind of, kind of having this gatekeeping quality to it, kind of keeping people out and keeping some people in. And–but you know, I think for me, not only because of my faith convictions, but also my cultural identity is one, you know, as a descendant of the transatlantic slave trade, I think for many, many Africans in America the idea of education, of being able to read, is a very big deal. It’s very well rooted. It’s been inherited, like through my, like emotional DNA that education by any means necessary is, is critical.

DR: That’s the access point.

Christina Edmondson: That’s the access point and even if not at the, even if not allowed at the physical table–which we know is wrong, not to have the space–but to still be able to have the intellectual experience even without, even while being rejected from the space is still a great value. And so I, yeah I, so I’m a, obviously a strong believer in the power of education, the importance of education and the stewardship of the mind. To be learning in very concrete traditional ways that we think about as higher education, but being, but to be learning about our neighbor in order to love them in more informal organic ways, too.

And I think when we think about what higher education can offer us is this exposure to these vast disciplines that really show off our God is creative and complex and condescends so that we can learn a little bit of it. Right? So, you know God is so much higher than we are but like God has, you know, condescended so that we can like have some–we can interact with God’s creation in all these different ways and certainly with this particular theological perspective is one that calls us to engage as salt and light in every discipline possible. And that if we don’t show up, we can, you know, we’ve conceded ground. We’re like God has nothing to say about that. So I, and I think that’s why we have to speak to making sure that the table is broad and that we bring in as many voices as possible. So that they can help us to see the blind spots that we can’t see.

DR: Yeah, and I wonder if a smaller college like Calvin–excuse me, university–

Christina Edmondson: University–hello!

DR: Trying to get used to that yet. A smaller place like Calvin with a very firm Christian mission–it’s maybe a little bit easier for us to have that as our, our goal that we’re kind of refugium space where we can very deliberately and intentionally try to shape all of campus life by these values. It’s harder at a larger university maybe.

Christina Edmondson: And I think you know, I think there’s a balance between seeing ourselves as kind of this refugium space and also resisting a more, kind of–and I mean this, I mean this in the slang vernacular sense of fundamentalist. Not like in the check boxes of like theological orthodoxy fundamentalist—but instead of kind of this like hunkering down, hiding place where the only thing that’s like good and pure is happening in this like petri dish and everything out there: watch out, you know. And so I think striking a balance between figuring out how to make sure that we are gracious in the way we think about this space and that we have a, have a good handle on our own, our own sinfulness even within the space, even in this space of refuge, so to speak. So anyways, I was, as you were talking I was thinking how do we do that well? And I think we have to always be open to being challenged about the ways that we’re being sinfully exclusive.

DR: Yeah, refugia are not meant to be closed.

Christina Edmondson: Exactly.

DR: They’re meant to be open and spreading. I think of that every year at commencement when we send eight or nine hundred graduates out into the other world. There we go, we’re spreading.

Christina Edmondson: Yes. Yes. Yes. Like a positive fungus.

DR: Dandelion seed.

Christina Edmondson: There you go. There you go.

DR: So besides your work on campus you have several other jobs, apparently. One of them is to be a co-host of the podcast Truth’s Table, along with Michelle Higgins and Ekemini Uwan.

And your podcast has been going for three seasons, about a hundred episodes, and it’s so good. It’s fascinating and full of rich spirituality and theology and you address a huge variety of topics and it’s really fun.

Christina Edmondson: We think it’s fun.

DR: I think so, too. It’s been described as a podcast that centers the voices of black Christian women exploring faith, justice, and culture. So I wonder if you might think about the podcast as creating a refugium for listeners. So tell us a little about the community that has formed around the podcast.

Christina Edmondson: Yeah, so we, so you know first and foremost I jokingly say that it’s group therapy for us. You know, it’s a, it’s a space to verbalize our group text to each other about some given, some given topic. And, and we have worked hard for it to maintain kind of its organic sound. You know, it doesn’t, it doesn’t sound overly polished, I think. It’s really what we would say to each other if we were connecting together in person. And we have, we have all kinds of people who listen though. So it’s an, it’s an interesting… I should–I don’t know if I want to tell people this, but I’m in charge of the emails. So people know that it’s me responding. And, and from looking at the emails, I get a snapshot of where people are writing from and who they are, their own kind of ethnic and cultural identity. And you know, first and foremost we center the voices of Black Christian women and we do that unapologetically. Very early on in our first season we started to state that. We thought it was kind of implicit and we decided to make it explicit. And, and that was because we were kind of getting people that were kind of pulling at us and saying, like, “Well, I feel like you need to explain this more, explain yourself.”

We were like: No. We’re not explaining this more. What’s happening right now? This, this actually wasn’t designed with this particular group in mind, first and foremost. And a part of the, the exhaustion of both racism and sexism is the, obviously the distraction of it–as the late Toni Morrison would talk about. But, but also people feeling like you work for them, like so now you do this podcast, but now I need you to change your podcast to be something for me. And that’s, that’s a problem. So we push back on that because, like that’s not what we’re going to do because it’s our podcast. And I think–what’s been fascinating is that certainly I think there are Black women who resonated with that and that gave them an even greater sense of respite and like, yes, I don’t have to put on for someone else, right? And then I think there are people who are outside of that demographic identifier of Black, Black women who resonate with authenticity. So they themselves are, are not Black women. I can think about a number of emails from white male pastors who–

DR: No kidding? White male pastors are listening?

Christina Edmondson: Oh, we have been quoted from many a pulpit of a variety of traditions.

DR: That’s awesome.

Christina Edmondson: And which, which tickles–it just cracks me up. And who are attracted to the authenticity and who are grateful to be able to eavesdrop–is the way they would think about it–on a conversation, kind of no holds barred, that doesn’t center them. And they didn’t realize to what extent their white maleness was being centered until they actually started listening to Truth’s Table. They were like, oh, they’re actually not talking to me.

DR: It’s actually a huge relief.

Christina Edmondson: Yes right.

DR: In certain ways.

Christina Edmondson: Yes, I would, I would hope so. It’s, it could be freeing, right, and so for us to see ourselves rightly as just fellow humans, I think that’s actually a blessing to us instead of being called to always be in charge and all those things, right? And so I think it’s, so we’ve gotten emails particularly from Black women in the community that’s been shaped around it that Truth’s Table has been what has helped them to stay committed to the local church or to the Christian faith. For me that is completely worth it as someone who considers myself kind of a highly evangelistically oriented Christian, like old-school. Like, people need Jesus! Like, I’m like, I live in that lane and that makes it worthwhile. That makes it worthwhile to do the episodes, to, for people to say like I know I’m not crazy now. Or I know God does care about Injustice and you’re approaching it from a biblical way that’s given me language. And now I feel like I can continue to engage. And so we think that that’s obviously a work of the Spirit. And we want to be faithful to it, but it does, it has created that, that, I think that refugium for people in the midst of a socio-political moment that can be described by many people as traumatizing and toxic. So we’re grateful for that.

DR: So what’s your sense of how cultural spaces such as podcasts–which are really very new and which are more virtual–what’s your sense of how they can do the work of cultural renewal in ways that are different from, say, a campus like this or a church congregation?

Christina Edmondson: Yeah. Well, I think the interesting thing about a podcast–and I’m saying this as a person who is not like a podcast listener–so, which is ironic– I’m on a podcast and I don’t listen to podcasts a whole lot–is that there is a bit of a, there’s a bit of a hidden quality to podcast listening for the good and bad. The good, the good element of it is that people can listen in on conversations or experiences that they wouldn’t give themselves permission to do before. And be kind of empowered to be able to take the new insights and hopefully the deeper empathy and then apply that in like the real actual world, the non-podcast internet world, with real people. Okay, we’re real people, but I’m like go find some real-real people. And I think, I think that’s a real gift. Sometimes people are like, oh, you know social media is just, you know, it’s not a real place to engage. And I disagree on some hands. I think that social media can be a bit of a classroom–maybe this is the psychologist in me–that can help you to hear at least some perspectives and to sharpen your engagement skills, right. And maybe, maybe if you kind of hang with it and you figure out, kind of what is your witness in social media, your witness in whatever media form you’re using, you can develop the skills to engage it in a way that is fruitful and that bears witness to Christ’s work in you, if you’re Christian. So all that to say is that I have found those spaces to be really interesting. It’s also by way of trying to stay connected to students. I consider myself to be a young person but I have finally reached the age of–I’m at the age where I have students who could be my children. And when that happens you’re like, oh, I see, I’m a little bit older now. And I was listening to students talk about their disconnection from the church, disconnection from the faith, and I’ve, kind of de-institutionalization in terms of religion and I thought, oh, we have to figure out some alternative ways. Never to replace the local church. I’m pretty die-hard about the importance of the local church. But as continued gateways. So these, I think these podcasts, these internet avenues, these spaces, at their best help people to take a bit of a respite and then lead them back to these local church spaces.

DR: Yeah, I love that. So it’s, maybe to put it in these terms, it’s a place of refugia that helps you circle back into the in-person refugia that, where healing can happen, too.

Christina Edmondson: That’s my hope. That’s my hope.

DR: Yeah, mine, too. So we haven’t talked much yet about, let’s call them anti-refugia, to make up another word. So places where poisonous attitudes and practices are cultivated. And the world is full of spaces that cultivate and spread poison of all kinds. They’re very visible right now. So how do you see the role of churches, individuals, and Christian institutions in resisting those kinds of spaces.

Christina Edmondson: I mean, so discipleship is powerful. And I think, when I think about people I know who use that title as like disciplers–that is, you know, that’s what we all are, first of all, but it’s a high responsibility and it’s a powerful thing with the Spirit at work. And I think that that is a bit of what discipleship is doing. It is teaching people how to resist and recognize that kind of anti-refugia, we’re talking about. To be able to spot it and name it for what it is and to be able to push back on it and to develop the Christian disciplines and the kind of life, life liturgy to be grown up and strengthened. To be able to resist personal and social and systemic sin, so to speak. I had the opportunity to speak to some newer Christian higher education faculty some months back, and they were asking me like what I think is like one of the critical issues of the moment, and I told them that I think one of our critical issues of the moment is specifically adolescent white male discipleship in this particular socio-political moment. I think that we–now I could do that, I could say that for every group, like every group of like discipleship matters, but I do think it’s a group that is being deeply propagandized with that kind of anti-refugia. And as people speak up more and more about kind of the construction of white identity and the system of  racialization–which is a  good thing–there are other people who are hearing that and not knowing what to do. And a part of their identity is being pulled away like, like a thread in a tapestry, and they’re unraveling. And the propaganda then is there to catch them in these kind of clutches of what I would call toxic identity, right, where you end up with, you know, the Charlottesville incident. You, you end up with people who feel that they are not included and their response is this extreme self-directed or externally directed violence. And which, which is kind of, it’s kind of, it’s anti-community, right, this violence. And so I think we as a church in America ought to make it our business to be concerned about the spiritual development of people who are being propagandized. It’s not only exclusively adolescent young adult white males, but that’s what comes to mind for me. And when I think about the rhetoric around things that we would look at and call like toxic masculinity and kind of anti-immigrant, anti-sojourner. And in all the ways that those are really anti-Christ.

DR: Anti-gospel, anti-Bible.

Christina Edmondson: Exactly, the contradiction of that. But, but desperate for identity. And so. And I think that’s part of what we help to provide for people in co-discipling or collectively discipling each other, sharpening each other–is that we are holding up mirrors and reminding each other of this identity in Christ.

And I think that’s a group that I’m deeply concerned that that’s not happening.

DR: That’s so helpful as a way of thinking about combining spirituality and theology with your training in psychology in this sociological concern with identity. That’s very, very helpful. I know on your podcast, two keywords that come up all the time are accountability and discernment.

Christina Edmondson: That’s because we need a lot of accountability.

DR: Well, we all do. And it’s really helpful to think about those two words in connection with this, too. So what is, what is your wish for Christian higher education in the next 20 years? What would you love to see?

Christina Edmondson: Oh, I would love to see them as the most creative–I was going to say joyful, but I would say joyful-slash-lamentful spaces, honest  spaces, creative, honest spaces that people look to even if they find themselves far away from this particular faith tradition, as spaces where they’re like, well, that is where you know good deep thinking takes place. And that’s where even if I don’t check all the boxes, I’m going to be treated well. And I’m going to have a space to belong in the fellowship of humanity. And that would be wonderful wonderful wonderful to me.

DR: A fantastic vision.

Christina Edmondson: And so obviously still be, you know, I want, I want Christian higher ed to still be relevant and still exist. That’s very important. And I–you know, when I think about even an institution like Calvin University, we have a, we fit in really interesting spaces. As a person who’s a believer who interacts with people who would be considered, for lack of better terminology, much more progressive or more conservative than, than I am or think of myself, I think there’s an importance of having spaces that can sit with all of that, that can sit with you know, the importance of the essentials and the non-essentials and the charity that covers all those things. Because there’s, I think there’s so much, so much temptation to live within a type of polarization, which even Christian higher education is, obviously, we’re caught up in that too. Because people want to know like what kind of Christian university are you? Right? And do you check this box or not that box and, you know, where do you stand on this, and–which, I’m not saying that’s not important, it is, but I think even before we get to that point, the way we reach our decisions and the way that we hold each other as we reach the decisions together are actually just as important. So I’m hoping that we’re a place that’s still relevant, known for being charitable and highly creative.

DR: Yeah. I love those words. I hope we can live into those. Yeah. What are the most beautiful places of refugia for you right now personally?

Christina Edmondson: Personally. Yeesh. I love those places. So you know recently I got the opportunity to host along with some of the women from Truth’s Table a retreat that was sponsored by Calvin Institute for Christian worship. And we brought together just under 20 women of African descent in the United States for a weekend retreat. And it was awesome. Now of course it was all the things that I would love in a retreat. But in this space we had, you know, you know, arts-creative types, worship leaders, businesswomen, academics, faculty-type people all together, you know, high-powered stay-at-home moms.

And in this space just really kind of encouraging each other and spurring each other on to good works in the faith. And so that has been the most recent, you know, kind of moment of like, huh, I needed that, I needed that space where no one had to explain anything to anybody, and we talked a lot about, you know, gratitude and forgiveness and the way the Gospel washes us and completes us and strengthens us. Just a–and we ate really good food, which is also really important–and we ate a lot, and we laughed a lot. So that’s a kind of concentrated space. I would say my everyday space is, I find this kind of idea of refugia in the laughter of my children. And remind me that some of the things that drive me crazy actually are really funny that they do.

DR: I think laughter and humor have to become two of our requirements for any refugia.

Christina Edmondson: I totally agree.

DR: And feasting.

Christina Edmondson: Yes. Absolutely. I totally agree. My, you know, my husband’s research is around Martin Luther King Jr. And that’s a, that’s a part of Dr. King’s personality a lot of people don’t know about is his humor. It’s oftentimes like a little kind of side note in some of the major works about his life. But the humor of social activists the humor of people who are in deep struggle and deep suffering is so important. And I think it’s one of the unique attributes of God. I’m convinced that God has a deep sense of humor.

DR: Oh yes. There’s so much evidence for that.

Christina Edmondson: Thus, we’re here. We are here right now. That’s pretty funny. I’m here. And so that, yeah, so those pockets of laughter have been incredibly important. And I just think brainstorming–the opportunity for collaborative work, for me as a person who’s kind of like high in like ideation and kind of intellectual creativity. I’ve had these opportunities to connect with people who, we have common ground on certain things and not others, but to think about generative projects together. And for me that is kind of this refugia. For others hat might be a burden but for me, that’s a good thing. It’s a good thing.

DR: Nice. Anything else I should be asking, anything else you want to say?

Christina Edmondson: Oh, I don’t know. I don’t know. You know, so as we’ve been talking, I’ve been thinking more about refugia not so much as a place but as a person. And what that means for us to be that point of reference for others and knowing that Christ is ultimately that for us, right. And how that is really the source of our kind of creative germinating that gives us life to impact other spaces. So, and that is in endless supply. So that makes me very hopeful, hopeful indeed.

DR: That is good to remember.

Christina Edmondson: Yeah. It makes me hopeful.

DR: Christina, I’m so grateful for you and who you are and what you do on this campus and in your podcast and in your speaking and teaching and writing. Just grateful for who you are in the world and thankful for our time together today.

Christina Edmondson: Thank you. Thank you. I enjoyed it.

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