At the end of every academic year, we host the Integrative Project symposium, in which The Seattle School’s alumni, current students, faculty, staff, and the Seattle community at large are invited to witness and celebrate the bold, thoughtful, and creative work of our graduating Master of Divinity and MA in Theology & Culture students.

For these students, the Integrative Project serves as a capstone of their time in graduate school—born out of years of study, countless conversations with peers and faculty, and each student’s distinctive embodiment of text, soul, and culture. Their work utilizes a blend of research methodology, personal exploration and engagement, and The Seattle School’s unique lens.

In this video, Elise Lenore Hale-Case (MATC) presents on her project, “Towards a ‘Heart to Feel’: Whiteness, White Fragility, and What the White Church Can Do About It.” Elise graduated in 2015 with an MA in Counseling Psychology before returning to pursue her MATC degree, motivated in large part by this project and the opportunity to explore the intersection of theology and psychology.

Elise launches from James Cone’s observation that white Christians have the eyes to see, but lack the “heart to feel” the injustice of racism. In other words, white Christians might seek to rationally understand injustice without feeling the need to emotionally engage it. Why is that? And what can the white church do to change it? In wrestling with these questions, Elise draws from the story of Jesus and the Canaanite woman in Matthew 15, the cultural effects of the Enlightenment and the development of whiteness as an identity, and the psychological nature of narcissism, ultimately urging white church leaders to foster the accountability and self-love that is required to break down objectification.

“In United States culture today, white supremacy continues to be a large part, because it is not only acceptable, it is socially valued to maintain the rational split between heart and mind. In white supremacist culture, an emotional truth—a heart truth—is not as true as a truth that is grounded in reason. And in fact, those who value another, less rational truth, are on the periphery of dominant culture. […] This white supremacist split prevents white folks from living fully into their identity, and it also prevents white folks from having the heart to feel the injustice of white supremacy. […] I believe this fragility is a form of inherited, collective cultural narcissism.”