Fusion Style: Goodness and Love

When I was in seminary, I found myself frustrated because there were theological writings, which approached various themes from a diversity of perspectives. There was Latina(o) liberation theology, African American liberation theology, liberation theology; womanist theology, feminist theology, systemic, process, historical, philosophical, biblical, and the list went on. Each of them came from a very clear standpoint; however, it seemed that each of them was based on a sense of homogeneous experience. I always struggled with that as a biracial and multicultural woman because my being and experience is more heterogeneous then homogeneous. It was then I began to think about a theology that was a biracial, multicultural theology, which recognized the diversity within and between us as human and spiritual beings.

Perhaps it was that work on a fusion centered theology, which gave me permission to begin fusing cultures in my cooking as well. Sometimes, it seems as if we take an ingredient and we say it belongs in this category and so that is how you cook it. For example, pepperoni is Italian and chorizo is Mexican. So you would use pepperoni in something Italian and chorizo in something Mexican. However, what limits us from using them both in the same dish.

The reality is that this approach to cooking is not new. It has been occurring since people began migrating from one land to another. As people leave their cultural homeland and venture to live in a different land or cultural environment, they long for the food from their native land. More often than not, the ingredients, spices, and cooking methods are not always available. So they create new ways of creating the foods they desire. We hear about it more today because of the diversity of cooking shows on television.

Fusion cooking is using the old familiar recipes, changing the spices, even main ingredients, and cooking methods to come up with a very similar dish, which may taste similar or look similar to the original ethnic dish. For example, one of my favorite things to eat is Sushi and Sashimi. In Japan, the Norimaki roll is usually rolled with the nori on the outside. In the U.S., it is popular to see the same roll with the rice on the outside. While in Japan, sushi are generally made with a combination of seaweed, seafood, and the sushi rice, Americans have taken the concept and idea of sushi and begun to prepare it with non-Japanese ingredients. For example, a few months ago, I had a sushi roll with pulled pork in the middle and barbecue sauce on the outside. While I realized I prefer traditional sushi, it did push me to think about how I could make sushi with ingredients that my friends and family might appreciate.

I experienced the same when I was preaching and selecting readings for a worship service. Some of the most powerful and exciting services people experienced came from a fusion of inspirations from a diversity of sources. Individually, they might seem very specific to their culture or origin, however, when brought together they created an understanding of the topic then would have been experienced by itself.

For example when thinking about goodness and love, there is a Yorubic proverb which says,” God drives away flies for a cow which has no tail.” A Christian writing from 1 John 4:8 simply says, “God is love.” According to an Ashanti proverb, “The hawk says, "All God did is good." An Islamic writing from the Hadith says, “God is beautiful and loves beauty.” A Tao writing says, “It is the Way of Heaven to show no favoritism. It is for ever on the side of the good man.” Each of these writings in itself has a lesson to teach and a unique quality of its own, however, when fused together, enables us to appreciate goodness and love with a richer and deeper understanding.