Migration in the Shadow of the UN

How is migration a factor or force present in your situation — in your teaching, ministry, research, advocacy?
Our wager with the APT Biennial theme is that migration is ingredient to practical theological work today. Of the three plenary sessions at the Biennial, one (“Black Lives Matter and Practical Theology”) will take place at Fordham in The Bronx, and two (“Migration and Practical Theology” and “Global Ecumenical Perspectives on Migration”) will take place in the shadow of the iconic UN conference building, at the UN Church Center.
Not long into the planning of the conference, I remembered that I grew up with a print of a painting of Jesus at the UN, framed, in my family’s living room. Living with this picture over the course of my childhood made an impression on me, but I had ‘forgotten’ about it until recently when I was looking at the UN building out the windows of the Church Center. I found a framed print on Ebay — not in great shape — and now it sits on the floor of my office waiting for me to figure out what to do with it. It is a conversation starter when colleagues or students come in! One colleague recently looked at it and said it spoke of Christian skepticism about the United Nations (Jesus is ‘locked out’); a student compared it to the current crop of superhero movies with action figures flying around skyscrapers, with a twist: here, Jesus is not a swaggering force in the city, but offering gently to help out at the UN (Jesus ‘wants in’). Among the many things I thought about that picture growing up, it’s basically been a picture of ‘dialogue’ for me between ‘world’ and ‘church,’ as in, ‘Can we talk?’ No doubt that ‘seeing’ was and is ‘framed’ by the kind of Catholic upbringing I had. Here’s a picture of the print sitting in my office.
What do you think of when you see it? And how is such ‘seeing’ related to your practical theological situation – of migration?
Tom Beaudoin, Fordham University

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