White Guilt Will Not Save Us From Police Brutality #JusticeForEricGarner

This weekend, I was on Twitter, and there it was again. Another hashtag, #EricGarner, #JusticeForEricGarner. Much like in the past #Justice4Trayvon, #JusticeForRenisha, #RememberRenisha. I saw the horrorifying, gory headlines, and I was afraid to click the linkbait. What happened this time?

According to newsoutlets, Eric Garner was being racially profiled by New York Police. They were practicing the Stop & Frisk white supremacy enacted originally by former mayor Rudy Giuliani. Now some “news” sources will point to Garner’s history with the police, drug possession. The War on Drugs is a satanic manifestation of White Supremacy, and it is looking like it’s end will be just as racist. Just last week, in Colorado, there was a business convention for teaching White middle class folks how to get into the business of selling legal marijuana. My point is two fold: the hypocrisy of white libertarianism to claim to be helping Blacks be wanting to end the Drug War. Not true. The conclusion of the Drug War if it ends with all 50 states legalizing pot, will still have its casualties: the thousands of black and brown bodies thrown in prison, the poor neighborhood who faced militarized police squads, families destroyed. The lack of acknowledgement of these casualties is revealing of society’s persistent anti-blackness.

And secondly, the mark of criminality imposed on black bodies still remains. Any black persons whose lives are ended by the police, the white supremacist media will find in their records to justify the lethal action taken. This leads our discussion back to Eric Garner, a husband, and a father of six with a history of health problems. One officer used an illegal chokehold on Garner. What type of an environment creates a situation like that? One that tacitly accept racist policies, Stop And Frisk, as well as the national War On Black People, I mean Drugs.

The above social analysis I just gave could be seen as a possible sobering presentation of facts plus the victims’ stories. Stories remind us that victims are real flesh and blood, and not just nameless statistics. Unfortunately, there are would-be “allies” out there who take a less helpful approach. One progressive pastor made Eric Garner’s death an opportunity to talk about the guilt of white churches.

And then, for all the shaming he did, his conclusion wasn’t even helpful. Simply praying on Sundays to end police violence versus Black persons is not enough. Prayer means getting involved in the life of God, which means enjoying God’s presence in the midst of the oppressed. Far from being liberating, guilt trips by white progressives make the stories of victims of racism more about the dominant culture rather than the actual direct sufferers of White Supremacist violence. Unfortunately, advocates of White Guilt more often than not, center their own feelings and narratives, rather than the pain of Others; which, in the end leads White progressives to take no action at all!

That’s the problem when White Brogressive saviors try to discuss racism, because they cannot speak from experience. Guilt is a necessary neutral thing, neither good or bad, but it becomes bad when whites use guilt to shame others and hold them hostage, while at the same time, erasing the agency of People of Color. I agree with Christena Cleveland that guilt can cause the comfortable to feel much needed discomfort, but feelings of guilt, from my perspective cannot be made the center or foundational.

Recently, I’ve been re-thinking the subject of empire studies. While the historical data does add up, there is a risk involved in focusing solely on how bad empires are (collective guilt). This act in and of itself re-centers the narrative on the dominant culture once more, albeit it places it on the defensive, but still Whiteness remains the center of attention. With Austin I agree, the stories of the marginalized are not made for Whiteness. In an essay on Oliver C. Cox and economics, Katie G. Cannon observes, she points out that for Carter G Woodson and Cox, racism was a mis-education. “Black people are presented as negligible contributors to the substantive interpretation of the world, whereas Whites are depicted as the source of all the worthwhile intellectual accomplishments.” (For more see, Racism and Economics: The perspective of Oliver C Cox)

In short, white supremacy denies moral agency to People of Color. To the extent that white guilt centers whiteness and white individual persons’ feelings, the cycle of violence of white supremacy continues. In his opening chapter of Black Theology and Black Power, James Hal Cone addressed White Guilt this way: “White Americans dare not know that blacks are beaten at will by policemen as a means of protecting the latter’s ego superiority as well as that of the larger white middle class. For to know is to be responsible. To know is to understand why blacks riot at what seems slight provocation. [...] they must believe blacks are in poverty because they are lazy or because they are inferior. Yes they must believe that everything is basically all right.”

The problem of Police Brutality and White supremacy is a theological problem, through and through, specifically one of atonement. As Samuel Logan accurately hinted at in his Good Punishment? An American society inspired by a version of Calvinist Christianity is somewhat committed to Substitutionary Atonements. The Guilt of the Criminal Element of our society must be placed on the bodies of those who are in prison, or resemble them. The bodies of People of Color must perish so that the whole can be experience redemption. The Wrath of God is bestowed upon the power of the state, and Black bodies are His sacrifice.

I realize that many White progresives are still growing out of this theological context, where the transference of guilt is made central. Liberationist Christianity provides a way forward. The preference for the biblical and historic doctrine of Christus Victor is an appropriate response to racist systems of violence. Christ came that we may have life, and have it more abundantly. Jesus came and rescued us from the powers of Satan, oppression, and death. The Crucifixion is not a passive acceptance of human or divine brutality; it is the path to true resistance. Christian anti-racist praxis should be modelled in Christ’s Victory is founded on God’s goodness revealed in God’s own praxis.

Just as Christ got up on the Cross in spite of his fear, we should go and do likewise. Act in spite of our doubts, our anger, our overwhelming guilt. Do good now, and then reflect later. Let us work to end the War On Black People.

h00die_R (Rod)

priestly abolitionist time travelling supervillian

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Posted in black theology, empire, ethnicity, liberation theology, libertarianism, racial harmony, theology | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Why The Church Can’t Wait: on women’s ordination #faithfeminisms

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For as long as I can remember, I’ve probably always affirmed the gifts of women for ministry. In college, in a discussion with a Hebrew Bible scholar and feminist, I was told I was a “bad inerrantist” for accepting even her authority as a professor. Closer to my senior year, my Calvinist friends from Reformed University Fellowship and I would also argue over women’s ordination. Back then, I was ill equipped to defend my position even though I managed to point out women who were in leadership in the early church. My points were dismissed, and I was “scandalized” as an Egalitarian Christian who voted DEMOCRAT. OH NO’s!!!!

Fortunately, I also had a closer circle of friends at the Baptist Student ministries and the local baptist church I attended. To put it politely, Al Mohler named this church a group of heretics for ordaining women a long time ago. So while I was shamed by one group, I was affirmed (in my Egalitarian Dudebroism) in another community.

I was happy with the results of last Monday’s vote by the Church of England to ordain women bishops. Ecclessial theology disputes aside, it was the right thing to do. I agree with Stanley Ntagali, Archbishop of Kampala/Primate of Uganda , “The most important matter in selecting Bishops is their personal commitment to Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour, an apostolic calling, and a demonstrated commitment to living and leading under the authority of God’s Word written.”

The problem with all of what I just mentioned is: WHY DOES IT EVEN MATTER? As my friend Sarah Moon says, men are heavily invested in patriarchy, so us commenting on the timing, whether it was too late or too soon is irrelevant. The only time that matters is NOW. You are either for women’s ordination or not.

Now, there are African-American male writers who argue that Black men didn’t practice patriarchy because they did not have any economic or political power. These same writers however are far from being invested in mutual relationships with women. Whether it is Gaslighting women’s experiences of sexual assault or claiming anything women say to be a “power move” this doth not look like advocacy for equality.

The view Black men have not benefitted from patriarchy is absolutely false. Black male leadership rarely goes questioned in politics ( Charlie Rangel, ahem!) and in the church ( Bishop Edde Long, for ex.). Black men like myself are as seen as the defacto leaders and spokespersons for our race, as if Black women haven’t experienced racism. In fact, a concrete example of this is during the Civil Rights Movement a number of women were in leadership roles and were activists, only to be overshadowed by the men. For more on the history, see the book, Freedom’s Daughters by Lynne Olson. A contemporary example today is the Neo-Calvinist Movement and its selection of Holy Hip Hop artists and black male authors who hold complementarian and anachronistic views of the history of black families.

Abolitionist and suffragist activist Frederick Douglass argued that absolute power concedes nothing. In his book, Why We Can’t Wait, Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. wrote, “Lamentably, it is an historical fact that privileged groups seldom give up their privileges voluntarily” (80). Now, there are many ways men hold on to privilege and positions of power over others, which really should be service because of the nature of Christ. One is the open and honest complementarian denial of women’s ordination. I know where Al Mohler and John Piper stand on this issue. They aren’t backing down anytime soon, and neither am I.

Truth be told, I would rather work with complementarians mentioned above than men who are lukewarm about their position. In a post over at Patheos “Progressive” Christian entitled 3 Reasons why The Church Of England Decision Is Right On Time, Zach Hoag concluded,

” If our ecclesiology is too low, we might scoff at a lack of progress. We might compare this with liberation happening in other corners of the Church and deem it lame. But if our hearts are oriented toward the totality of God’s liberating work, then we will see in this not just the political dimensions but the beautiful and lasting effects for the Church universal.”

The common criticism that “radical” egalitarians and feminists have “too low” of an ecclessiology is one usually argued by NeoAnaBaptist (mostly white, male) writers trying to follow in the footsteps of Stanley Hauerwas. One basic premise is that sociological cues show us that progress is inevitable, and so churches have to be slow and patient in implementing social changes. The other premise is the ever beckoning call to unity. White NeoAnabaptists never give us details about what this unity requires, and whose terms this unity is going to be on, BUT THEY SURE DO LOVE TO TALK ABOUT IT!

Enter Hoag:
“That’s another way of saying that faithfulness entails unity. Yes, there are some issues that justify division, but those issues, again, must be painstakingly discerned.”

Whose understanding of faithfulness do we go with? What if being faithful means thought-provoking critiques and peaceable but “not-so-civil” engagement with the status quo in line with the prophets during Israel’s monarchy and exile? There are some folks who like to call themselves “prophets” but they don’t like talking about the difference between false and true prophets. While Jeremiah was preaching doom and gloom, false prophets were pointing to the temple (their ecclessiology) as the safe, foundational point of reference.

Bottom line: the White NeoAnabaptist arguments of claiming to have a “high ecclessiology” are elitist, and show a rather low view of the laity to be persuaded on women’s ordination. It’s a Top-Down #EmpireBusiness approach. I don’t think one can claim to actually talk about liberation if they prefer their abstract, hierarchal ecclessiologies over the very real, concrete livelihoods of women. The choice of Liberation always involves the choosing of the concrete over and against the abstract, praxis over the theoretical.

The right time is always NOW. The Kingdom is here NOW in the present as well as future. THE HOLY SPIRIT empowers women and men in the here and NOW.

*this is my first post for the #faithfeminisms synchroblog

h00die_R (Rod)

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Posted in Anglican, Christianity, gender, sexism, womanism, womanist | Tagged | 4 Comments

The #faithfeminisms project and synchroblog

This week, a group of my friends including Suzannah Paul and Austin Brown have launched a writing project on feminism and faith. This will include a synchroblog and 30 second podcasts. As a U.S. Black CisHet male theologian in dialogue with womanist and feminist theologies, the diverse setting and promising goals of the project are exciting. Some of the questions the #faithfeminisms project will be asking:

“How does feminist thought or theory shape your faith expression? How has your theology stirred you to work for liberation? What tensions do you experience, and how do you navigate them? How are you complicit in oppression within and outside the church? How have you failed as a feminist, and what are you learning? What challenges does the future hold for our daughters and sons who will carry on this work? Does fighting for justice make way for peace? What does healthy conflict entail? How are privilege and power wielded for good and ill? How can we honor a multiplicity of voices without perpetuating further marginalization? How can ministries seek liberation and shalom? What does a robust, intersectional, liberative feminist theology look like in practice? What is the relationship of contemplation to activism? Who teaches and inspires you? What brings you hope? How do we grow as a movement for justice and as communities and people of faith?”

I plan on working on at least 2 posts focusing on a few questions: “What does a robust, intersectional liberative feminist theology look like?” And, “What does healthy conflict entail?” And “How am I complicit in oppression inside and outside the church?” If you’re interested in doing a guest post for this synchroblog, comment below.

The synchroblog ends Friday, July 25th, here is a link to the #faithfeminisms website for more details about the synchroblog.

h00die_R (Rod)

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the forgiveness of sins….and life everlasting

On The Sign Of Jonah, Forgiveness, Repentance, and Reconciliation

The last few lines of the Apostles’ Creed reads:

“8. I believe in the Holy Ghost:

9. I believe in the holy catholic church: the communion of saints:

10. The forgiveness of sins:

1l. The resurrection of the body:

12. And the life everlasting. Amen.”

While I do plan on doing a series on me being historic creed-affirming and what that means as an outlier, very much Free Church Baptist, I want to focus on the last three lines today. I think it’s of most urgency to talk especially about “the forgiveness of sins” part in a violent, unforgiving world with a 24-hour news cycle. Unfortunately, many mainline and evangelical churches discuss “forgiveness” without talking about repentance. As for myself, I know I have personally been in error of talking and writing about repentance while neglicting forgiveness. Specifically in concrete terms, when pastors and Christian celebrities make mistakes or break the law, our very first reflex is to accept apologies in the name of forgiveness, and then once again put that person back up on a pedastal. “Forgiveness” has become redefined as letting the person who has sinned live as if nothing ever happened. Things go back to the way they are. Apologies make a mockery of repentance.

At the same time, the sinned against feel outraged. The sinned against, the victims of the powerful, rightly continue to call for true repentance, that metanoia where the sinner changes not only her/his mind, but also her/his habits. No, things cannot go back to the way they were before. But the Church insists Things Must Stay the Same. But the Spirit sent by the Father and the Son, calls out, saying to us, no sinner, everything must CHANGE.

On anger, very briefly. Anger is a legitimate emotion in Scripture. The problem occurs when we stay angry, when we allow our perpetrators to define us. In a way, by allowing the sun to set on our wrath, the Law and Sin (the Old Creation) continue to remain in power as a stronghold. In Christ, we are New Creations, being conformed to the Image of God. The Great Commandment and the New Creation reconstitute us into new selves, selves determined by the grace of God. Anger can inhibit us from taking action just as much as any emotion can. Frustration is not a guarantor of social change, no more than joy, no more than apatheia, or empathy.

What I love about Jesus is that he teaches us how God is in control of God’s emotions, and how we can be too. Christ Jesus was proceded by the prophetic tradition we witness in the Old Testament/Hebrew Bible. One such prophet was Jonah. In Chapter 4, Jonah reveals why he ran away from YHWH’s call on his life. “I knew that you were a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger, abounding in love, a God who RELENTS from sending calamity.” Did Jonah have a right to being angry? What was his beef with the city of Ninevah? I was always curious why until I read Miguel De La Torre’s Liberating Jonah: Forming An Ethic of Reconciliation. “The Assyrians were the conquerors, rather than the people in some distant place waiting to hear the good news of their salvation. There are clear parallels that link the United States with the empire of Assyria, and Jonah and Israel represent those who exist at the margins of empire and are subject to its mercy or domination” (27).

So we see that God had chose a member of one of Assyria’s victims to call them to repentance, and coincidentally teach them about God’s forgiveness. In the New Testament, like in Matthew 12:38-41, Jesus talks about the Sign Of Jonah. The former enemies of Israel, the Assyrian oppressors, are far better off than Jesus’ generation (under the Roman Empire). The people of Ninevah recognized the goodness and mercy of God, and that brought them to repentance.

What I want to point out is not an androcentric message how dark the hearts of Jesus’ opponents or the ancient Assyrians were. What I want to say is that many Christians pat themselves on the back for making calls to repentance by pointing out how totally depraved everyone is. What would stop a person just turn around, and not affirm a higher power at all, after hearing that message? So with the Apostles Creed , and the witness of Scripture, we can say, we believe in the forgiveness of sins AND the Resurrection of the Body, i.e., the goodness and mercy of God.

Granted, I have often dismissed the cliche “God is good all the time,” because of all the suffering around us. It’s really actually one of the most difficult divine character traits for me to affirm. But the story of Jonah reminds us that God is merciful, God can choose to RELENT, that God is OPEN to our cries. Our suffering does not determine who God is. God’s Goodness, grace, is what defines The triune God.

In the words of Karen Baker Fletcher, “The logic of the Crucified God in Jesus the Christ, who forgives those who kill and offers hope for redemption, points to a better path. It is in this second more difficult and challenging, path that one becomes more than forgiven but more fully in the image of God. The promise of God in Christ is the restoration of full humanity in God’s own likeness deliverance from ALL DISTORTIONS and corruptions of that likeness” (Dancing With God, p108).

The act of forgiveness is an act of hope. God sent the Son to call for our repentance/teach us about the One True, Merciful God in hope for everyone to know God (Acts 17:30). Forgiveness is NOT the act of accepting apologies so things can go unchanged, the status quo in tact. Forgiveness is opening ourselves up to the possibilities of our enemies’ repentance, so that we may be reconciled in restored fellowship. Thus, forgiveness, repentance, and the hope for reconciliation should never be severed. Just as justice and righteousness go together, so too repentance and forgiveness.

Now, I know haven’t gotten to a lot of concrete implications but let’s start with God’s forgiveness. On one hand, Scripture repeats God will forgive our sins and FORGET. God will relent from God’s memory our trespasses. On the other hand, Jesus the Son of God returns in Revelation with his raised heavenly body, filled with scars. The cheap adage “time will heal all things” is not true. That is fatalism and works righteousness, something opposed to grace. Only the Cross of Christ heals, and God doesn’t keep a grudge. So the implication for our own actions is that we as New Creations are called to forgive sins, but always remember the sinned against. As the apostle Paul says, “remember the poor.”

So we should keep in mind the most vulnerable when our church bodies are deciding how to handle issues of corruption, abuse, or integrity. Just as God has given us our free will (the space for genuine repentance and loving relationship with God), churches and communities too should set proper boundaries and safe spaces for the sinned against, for the sake on the whole body.

In this way, we can affirm the Creed, “We believe in

10. The forgiveness of sins:

1l. The resurrection of the body:

12. And the life everlasting. Amen.”

h00die_R (Rod)

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Posted in "THE CHURCH", Christianity, Nicene Creed, Nicene orthodoxy, prophets, the Crucifixion | Tagged , | 1 Comment

is Christian Capitalism a heresy? #HobbyLobby

STOP! PAUSE! I already realize there will be people on both sides of this debate arguing that “well Christian communism” or “Christian socialism” is also wrong, yada yada. Sure I’ll concede this but these concepts aren’t the status quo or relevant to this discussion.

Last year I went down close to the San Antonio area with my church’s singles group for a Baptist conference for singles. I had some good memories, and also some not-so-good memories that I live-tumblred. Even wrote a song.

At that time I was working two part-time jobs, 1 in retail, the other substitute teaching. I wanted a little bit more stability so I attended the “manage your finances” seminar. The lesson was taught based on the premise that one was full-time employed, with benefits, and earning $40,000 at minimum. The lesson was irrevant to the needs of the working poor/unemployed and to the message of the Gospel. Jesus’ liberating mission (Luke 4:19) was completely ignored. God’s favor for the oppressed was dismissed in favor of free market talking points clothed in religious piety. Just because our lecturer, a white collar worker at an investment firm, was at the top, did not mean he had the clearest view. But again, that’s the problem with the Church’s marriage to Capitalism; there’s very little space to hear the voices of those who are suffering.

In Christianity, we have a bad habit of hiding behind power. The 4th century bishops hid behind Emperors like Constantine; Martin Luther had his princes, John Calvin had his city councils; church going slave owners had their Bibles and plantations; the abolitionists had Lincoln, later Woodrow Wilson; the Moral Majority had Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan. In today’s world, the culture wars are almost out of the hands of politicians, and in the hands of businessmen through the media, social media, and various institutions. Who are the Defenders of the Faith today? Christian celebrities from Duck Dynasty, and the owners of Chik-Fil-A and Hobby Lobby, respectively. #NoShade

Systematic theologian Joerg Rieger asked it best, “what if our theologies and our churches have, at least unconsciously, become part of the religion of the market? What if the God worshipped on Sunday mornings looks more like Mammon everyday?” For more see Rieger’s Liberating The Future.
What I see happening is the cycle of Christians coalescing around the powerful, placing their hopes on them. This adoration of money and influence isn’t limited to the church of course; what I am saying is that this is happening in spite of our Savior’s teachings on the subject of money. Yes I already know the Parable of the Minas (Talents) and you’re wrong. When a person has the audacity to speak up and compare Christ’s teachings to the American church’s economic practices, they are labelled “communist.” Such red-baiting only exemplifies how much people are willing to go to cling to their idols.

One practice that happens in mainline and evangelical churches that goes unchecked is denominational structures investing their money in stocks and futures. About two weeks ago, the Presbyterian Church USA applauded itself and its white saviorism for divesting from THREE corporations implicated in destroying Palestinian lives. At the general assembly, America was seen to be the “real” Promised Land and anti-Jewish propaganda were first placed then taken down from the PCUSA website.

What doesn’t go questioned is WHY ARE CHURCHES INVESTING in the stock market in the first place? Why not the lives of the poor? Why not homes for Palestinian refugees? This paternalistic white saviorism is part of the legacy of capitalism. James Baldwin said it best, that Israel was created for the salvation of Western interests.

Neoliberalism and neocolonial empire is built upon the history of divide and conquer among conquered groups, the Palestinians and Israelis being just two of those. The imperial missionary religion transplanted overseas said, “love your neighbor at home, except if she was black or First Nations. Love your neighbor in a foreign country, except if she is a woman of color.” This hypocrisy remains today. Take for example, “Christian” business Hobby Lobby. As Tyler pointed out, we think it’s great that HL is paying a living wage. However, they are inconsistent in their “pro-life” ethic by expoiting Chinese workers and investing in abortion pills still here and abroad. The Supreme Court ruling given on Monday was not about religious freedom. It was about economic liberty and power as understood by the Christian capitalist managerial class. In the words of Bill Clinton, “It’s the economy, stupid!”

There are ways towards resisting the Church’s sacramentalizing the free market, and that starts looking back with the teachings of Jesus, and being present in the here and now with the least of these. One of my favorite Gospel passages our mother had us to memorize was Matthew 6:21, where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. If you value fellow human beings as all being made in the image of God, from fetus to factory worker, you will show them love, struggle against the systems of death with them, and bring them life. This may mean church may have to stop giving in to the status quo, take risks, and in a rare moment of agreement with Wayne Grudem, invest in people, not corporations and power.

In the words of James Cone, from hid A Black Theology of Liberation,

“Embracing the world is a denial of the gospel. The history of traditional Christianity and recent secular theology show the danger of this procedure. Identifying the rise of nationalism with Christianity, capitalism with the gospel, or exploration of outer space with the advancement of the kingdom of God serves only to enhance the oppression of the weak. It is a denial of the lordship of Christ. To affirm Christ as Lord means that the world stands under his judgment. There is no place or person not subject to his rule.”

h00die_R (Rod)

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Posted in Church-State separation, class, corporations, economics, liberalism, liberation theology, libertarianism, The Economy of Jesus | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

the divine feminine: God the Father

My intention for this series is to come from a perspective that gives weight to Scripture and church history. Before I do that, I must share this story. My first year in seminary had its ups and downs. I was a Barthian four-point Calvinist with progressive politics. In one practical theology class, the professor made it compulsory to write inclusive language about God. Distressed, I called the first disciple of Jesus I ever knew: my mother. If she was to fit a category theologically, she’s Arminian and gender wise, complementarian. I complained, “But mooooom! They’re just enforcing THEIR agenda!” She responded, “Rodney, God is Spirit, God is greater than what you or I can imagine.” Then it hit me, yes God is transcendent. I alluded to that in my final paper for undergrad. I would go on to become a better theologian because of this friendly reminder. And well write my Master’s thesis on the topic.

The Gospel of John chapter one, verses one through eighteen, functions as a Jewish-Christian anti-polytheist, anti-imperial critique. As an announcement of Good News, the Johannine author (John for short), writes of a creation account whereby the Word/Wisdom of God echoes the creation theology of the book of Exodus (Chapter 33-34for ex.). “The vocabulary of 1:1-18, “word….light….life….God…testimony….glory….grace….truth,” is reminiscent of the epiphany that attends the law at Sinai”- Dwight Callahan. Fascinatingly enough, Clement of Alexandria in his commentary on the Decalogue, argues that the Logos Inarnate is the same spoken word of God from Sinai to Moses and Israel.

The way that we understand the Parenthood of God is by first looking at the sources that name YHWH as FATHER. What type of Parent is God?

In the Torah, starting with Genesis, Moses refers to GOD as El Shaddai. Now as J.R. Kirk points out, most of our American Standard English translations of the Bible sanitizes biblical language. They are not “literal” as many claim; more like literary. El Shaddai like in Genesis 17:1 the covenantal God who demands the practice of circumcision (of all practices), is El Shaddai, the God of Many Breasts.

This God is not simply “God of the mountains.” That comes from reading extra-biblical sources, which are then re-read into the text. God El Shaddai alone is the source of humanity’s fruitfulness (Genesis 35:11, 49:25). The Bible’s condemnation of Ashera must be seen just as John 1 is, as prophetic critiques against idolatry. God doesn’t need a wooden Ashera statue or pole to represent God. God is Spirit, God is Holy and faithful, and expect us as human beings to do the same.

Revert back to Exodus 34, specifically verse 13, Israel is commanded to break down the Asherah poles and “sacred stones.” Again, verse 17,” Do not make cast idols.” Contrary to what the complementarian Center for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood teaches, the concern for Asherah poles was NOT about Asherah’s gender. It was about the actual poles and statues themselves being barriers to the Israelites worshipping The One True God.

Now, as El Shaddai, God our Nurturing Parent makes room within herself as God of the Patriarchs, the God identified as the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Feminist scholars find the divine election of Abraham and the covenantal practice of circumcision to be a male-centered discourse (Genesis 17). What would it mean to examine this text in light of God as nursing Mother/Father? Perhaps one implication would be that since God is transcendent, God is capable of opening Godself up to the Other.

In several of his writings, Clement of Alexandria refers to God as God our Nurturer. Unfortunately, many complementarians essentialize fatherhood to simply providence (men being the breadwinners). This explains why CBMW president Owen Strachan can use shame to call out stay-at-home fathers as “MAN-FAILS.” The God of the Bible is great, God is holy, and God cannot be contained by anything according to Clement. The protest against gender essentialism is a protest against idolatry. And this protest actually works both ways. The Holy Other God who worked in the lives of the prophets Deborah and Huldah, warriors like Jael, and apostles like Junia and Phoebe, is also the Warrior God of the Exodus (Exodus 34:11).

God the Nurturing Parent, the Mother and Father of all creation was revealed to the Jews and Gentiles in life, death, and Resurrection of the man, Jesus of Nazareth. It is in Christ’s return we see in Revelation 1:13, that Jesus recieves the Church as the Son Of Man with nursing breasts (mastoi). And if we see the Son, we have also seen the Father. It is the Second Person of the Trinity that I shall turn to next.

h00die_R (Rod)

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Thou Shalt Slow Down: Ecology, Time, and Sabbath

 

I’ve been having a lot of random (or maybe not so much…) thoughts about the connections between ecology, Christianity, and what has become of modern society. Rather than committing to or promising a whole series about these matters, I will simply write about them whenever I feel inspired (and so, naturally it’ll probably turn into something of a series..)

One thing I’ve been thinking about a lot in the past year is the societal notion of time. It’s an idea that we take so much for granted and may not even realize/notice despite it being so imminent in literally every corner of our lives and consciousness. What’s worse are the ills that come of our problematic relationship with time. Our society moves so fast that we don’t even notice most of the time. Strict rationalism preceded neo-liberal economic thought which preceded private property rights/individualism ( for white men) which preceded maximizing efficiency and acquisition of wealth which preceded greater technological advancements which preceded the fetishizing of progress and speed- that which is faster is preferable to the slow-moving former..
The health disparities (and wage disparities..) associated with FAST food
The enslavement and destruction of life and freedom by those oversees (many children) because of FAST fashion – fresh Nike sneaks, etc.
The myriad accidents that are essentially numbingly mundane that litter our highways with speed limits of 55, 65, and 75 miles per how
Or maybe even the health complications that are born out of and significantly exacerbated by stress related to meeting deadlines and getting to work and obligations “on time” constantly..
And the list could go on further and further, yet humanity still seems to preference this heightening of speed – it’s like we’re moving so blindingly quick and eager off of a cliff- because none of us seems to know why and where we’re headed at this speed. We salivate at the prospect of a bullet train – taking us from NY to Paris in a matter of minutes. We all love our high-speed internet we used to read this blog post. For what purpose? We’ll get to our destination faster but we’re not suspended from the human condition anymore than if we moved slower.
All of these examples come from human ecology, yet natural ecology moves at a rate far slower than its human counterparts. The formation of fertile soil, the growth of crops and food, the development of some of the world’s greatest mountain chains, the decomposition of plants and animals , the water, carbon, and nitrogen cycles, the passage of spring to summer to fall to winter – some of these things happen at timescales millions of time longer than the human life span, others thousands, hundreds, ten times as long- but all of these things ( and many more things) in ecology move SLOWLY compared to human civilization of today. Nature seems content to move at its slow pace, never rushing yet everything gets accomplished somehow.
We gaze out at the backyard finch through our windows in the morning and watch as it chirps and frolics through the air in between foraging for food, building its nest, feeding its young- we begin to envy this critter and many others because of the abundant wealth of time they have. We gaze out at them and then look at ourselves and our obligations and have to shake our heads at the absurdity of the speeds with which our lives and obligations move, a little bit of us even mourns because we know life could be this way. Slowness of pace is one of ecology’s most important lessons.
Perhaps this is what YAHWEH is invoking in instituting the Sabbath. The designation of a whole day to taking a rest from the mundane in our lives, the business and the restlessness. A time to be present with ourselves and with our God and to trust in his ability to sustain.
Perhaps this is what Christ is invoking in Matthew 6:25- 28
25″For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26″Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they?… 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? 28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin.

Our obsession with speed is ultimately an obsession with the desire to control, to master, to possess to eliminate uncertainty about the future. We think be speedily moving ourselves from point A in time to point B we can eliminate the “gook” in between these two points, but a lot of life happens between these two moments that we’re attempting to just erase by moving faster and disregard anything that happens between points A and B. Our obsession with speed is about the angst, anxiety and restlessness of our culture to produce, consume, compete and remain abreast of our competition. Therefore by encouraging opposing this manner of living Christ provides a manner of resisting empire- slow down !

Harry

Like a Lotus: Born into the murky, muddy waters I was, l ived, I breathed In awe of starry veil above me and the verdant radiance around me I gazed, I glowed, I gasped Striken with gale winds I braced, I fell, I felt Like a dove He descendeth He is, He lives, He breathes Like a lotus summoned by the sun’s rays I opened, I blossomed, I live

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the divine feminine: a trinitarian perspective: a series

Let’s be upfront. There’s probably no way for me to write a series like this and not be called the dreaded “H” word: “heretic.” Earlier this year, fellow Southern Baptist Owen Strachan farewelled Rachel Held Evans for a post she WROTE TWO YEARS AGO. I really don’t expect Strachan and the like to change their views. However, there are a lot of Christians who are earnestly seeking to partake in the larger tradition of historic Christianity. Orthodox historic Christianity does NOT BEGIN AND END with The United States of America.

What I am looking for in a Trinitarian theology is a theology that includes both Western and Eastern Christianity, that can reconcile the two, as well as witness to the reconciliation that Christ has brought between men and women.

Now, there are some Christian writers that claim that people who refer to God as She/Her have left orthodox Nicene-Chalcedonian Christianity altogether. Is there a theological surplus that makes room in Nicea-Chalcedon that makes room to discuss the divine feminine? Also, what are the trajectories and ethical implications of including the divine feminine in our liturgical practices and sermons? This I will discuss and more in dialogue with early Christian communities and church historians.

Here is the order of the plan series:

the divine feminine: God the Father

the divine feminine: God the Son

the divine feminine: God the Holy Spirit

the divine feminine: Trajectories and Ethics

the divine feminine: Conclusion

h00die_R (Rod)

priestly abolitionist time travelling supervillian

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Posted in early Church, Eastern Orthodoxy, Nicene Creed, Nicene orthodoxy, Patristics, random, theological languages, theology, Trinity | Tagged | 1 Comment

Just In: Evangelical Postcolonial Conversations

Well my! That was quick! I mailed in my review book copy suggestions to IVP on Friday, and one of them arrived today: Evangelical Postcolonial Conversations: Global Awakenings in Theology and Praxis editted by Kay Higuera Smith, Jayachitra Lalitha, and L. Daniel Smith. Looking forward to engaging this text!

h00die_R (Rod)

priestly abolitionist time travelling supervillian

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Musical Jesus: AnaBlacktivist Sample CD Track Listing !

Every movement and empire has an anthem or anthems! From the Star Spangled Banner to Lift Every Voice and sing, music has been a key part of reinforcing and poetically contextualizing ideas and motifs. They can work to reinforce and push an agenda. A catchy rhyme here and syncopated beat there mixed with stanzas and verses of meaningful lyrics can work to burn these ideas into our memory more and more each time we hear them.

It’s no secret that worship music is no different! Are our songs we sing in the modern American church anthems of empire or are they sounds of liberation? Are they demonic discographies or melodies from heaven? With all of this recent fervor over AnaBlacktivism and Rod’s impactful series on the matter, I have thought that perhaps this theological movement could use its own anthems and musical context!

I’ve drafted a list of songs that could be on a sample track-listing for a AnaBlacktivist/BLT – inspired CD! GET YOUR COPY NOW WHILE SUPPLIES LAST!

1. My Liberty

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sFyYBQRAzA4

Every great empire on the planet has its processional march – an upbeat, spirited siren of sorts to their politic! Often reserved for times of war and struggles major strongholds, these marches are to instill fear and reverence in the opponent. Heck, even the Israelites were told to make a loud, triumphant sound to see the walls of Jericho come tumbling down! For the AnaBlacktivist Church, this song could serve as this purpose with its  steady tempo, meek yet strong lead singer ( a young Yolanda Adamds), and its old black church musical aesthetic.

2. Black Jesus

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LhPGo4jYmN4

Where to begin with this song? Not only did Tupac & the Outlawz construct an anthem for the Black Liberation Theology, they made one of the most fierce interrogations of the modern White American Constantinian Church in music history! No other song captures the mood of the despised/”evil” yet divine quite like this track. This song is so important to AnaBlacktivism and BLT that I’ve actually done a post on just this song that you ought to check out here: Tupac And Black Jesus

3. Melodies from Heaven

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zgT-DbTdyqY

This gospel classic from Kirk Franklin and the Family has always been a favorite of mine. And when I think of its message within the context of AnaBlacktivist theology, I love it all the more! This song essentially features down-trodden , lowly voices asking for “melodies form heaven” – i.e. a “touch” of Divinity. I’m convinced however that “melodies” needn’t be musical melodies – good theology that is actually good news to the oppressed (i.e. AnaBlacktivist theology) is “music to our ears” and serve as “melodies from heaven”. Any great news of political/institutional reform for the better can be “melodies from heaven”. But one thing is clear in this song- these melodies coming from heaven represent the hope that any of these “melodies” will have to come from God –  almost invoking a pentecostal/charismatic theme

4. Changes

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ay9BWM8lwOA

This song is rather self-explanatory. Another favorite by Tupac, this song serves as sort of the “lamentations” of the AnaBlacktivist movement. With its cataloguing of issues that effect the oppressed and disrupt true fraternity, the human condition is seemingly hopeless, hence ” that’s just the way it is…” Though AnaBlacktivist theology is a theology of hope in the Divine, this song is a reminder of how healthy and Christ-like it is to take time to lament and mourn over our situation

5. Scattered Sheep

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JzoOKq2xusI

In the same vain as Tupac’s “Black Jesus” , this rap song is yet another swfit, hard-hitting critique of ‘modern day Babylon’. The idea of Christ gathering ‘scattered sheep’ – people from many different walks of life , who all oppose empire yet are confessing to their own trasngressions is not unlike what’s happening in the Christian blogosphere – this song is a reminder that we were/are all scattered sheep now united and organized in the collective church body – the fact that we’re even organized through the interwebz via blog networks, FB groups, etc. is itself God working in our midst! Furthermore this song tells of the personal demons that Corey Red and Precise go through ( confessing) while living in an age of empire (resisting empire!) – doesn’t get more AnaBlacktivist than this!

6. Come and Listen

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6fvSfrt6fUE

I first heard this song when I was a sophomore or so in college still involved with the campus ministry Cru. Along with my introduction to Calvinism was my intro to popular Christian rock and white Christian artists. Out of all the one’s I’ve heard, this one has always been and still is my favorite. David Crowder’s ‘Come and Listen’ is a simplistic yet soul-stirring song. In it, he states “come and listen to what He’s done” – and it comes across as a call to laying down all of our weapons, our egos/prides, our lusts, our quests and endeavors for empire to “come to the water’s edge” and simply listen to the far greater thing that Christ has done.

7. Lukewarm

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j4Y7Okneb7A

I’ve recently done a post about this song and what it means to be “lukewarm” within the context of AnaBlacktivist , post-colonial theology. At risk of repeating what I’ve already stated in the post, the song is included in this soundtrack because of the impossibility of one truly calling themselves a Child of YAHWEH yet also a child of empire and White Supremacy, or *gasp* MONEY (captialism, yo?). Having these young, talented voices sing this song on a beach ( a landscape void of any signs of empire) is an aesthetic call to Christ’s anti-imperial , simply, child-like (but not childish) gospel

8. Break Every Chain

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-pD2zIuiC2g

Yet another song I have done a post on before that must be included on this soundtrack. Why have I included it? – it gets no simpler than the lyric “There is power in the name of Jesus to break every chain” – the vocals are passionate and the song is all-encompassing – EVERY chain, not just personal but institutional chains as well. This song is very popular in black charismatic circles.

9. Teach Me

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_cbgb36NUcU

This song I decided to include because it’s a reminder of the importance of a confessing church – even while resisting empire. Spensha Baker reminds us

“Teach me how to love
Teach me how to trust 
teach me how to give even when I don’t get enough
Teach me how to pray
Tell me what to say
cause I know without your love I can’t get love so teach me love
Teach me”

Reminds of the MLK Jr’s quote “Let no man bring you so low as to hate him”

10. A Time to Love

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NCGNg5qeP9M

I only recently discovered this gem a couple months ago – this soulful duet by Stevie Wonder and India Arie is a tremendous, poignant, yet gentle opposition to tendencies to empire. It is stated in Scripture that “we are but a mist” – and you’d think with our time being so limited, we’d make better use of our time than promoting empire. Their constant haunting question – “when will there be a time for love?” This song’s gentle,non-violent pre-modern aesthetic is an echoing of AnaBlacktivist theology!

 

Of course there are many songs that could be included on this list! Maybe we could end up with a whole new litany of hymns for the emerging AnaBlacktivist church – feel free to suggest more!

 

Harry

Like a Lotus: Born into the murky, muddy waters I was, l ived, I breathed In awe of starry veil above me and the verdant radiance around me I gazed, I glowed, I gasped Striken with gale winds I braced, I fell, I felt Like a dove He descendeth He is, He lives, He breathes Like a lotus summoned by the sun’s rays I opened, I blossomed, I live

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