The Gospel and Black Power: thoughts on and from James H. Cone's Black Theology and Black Power: "The Gospel of Jesus, Black People, & Black Power"

The Gospel and Black Power: thoughts on and from James H. Cone's Black Theology and Black Power: "The Gospel of Jesus, Black People, & Black Power"

The 4th post in the series on the writings of James Cone. Here I reflect on Cone's response to questions such as what is the gospel of Jesus Christ, what is the righteousness/justice of God, and whether Christian love is compatible with Black Power.

Therefore violence may be the only way to express Christian love to the white oppressor, as it is the only way to confront the white oppressor as a thou, to remain a thou in the face of the threat of nonbeing, to remain true to the worth, value, and humanity that God has bestowed through the initiating agape love, the only way to embody love as righting the wrongs of humanity because they are inconsistent with God’s purpose.

 

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Asserting Black Humanity: thoughts on and from James H. Cone's Black Theology and Black Power "Toward a Constructive Definition of Black Power"

Asserting Black Humanity: thoughts on and from James H. Cone's Black Theology and Black Power "Toward a Constructive Definition of Black Power"

The 3rd post in a series on the work of James Cone. Here I reflect on Cone's definition of Black Power, the affirmation and assertion of black humanity in the face of white racism, how I am a racist, and the risk of liberalism.

To borrow a phrase from Paul, we live and move and have our being in a racist society, a racist climate. I cannot deny that which I have inherited, racialised narratives that shape the way I see the world and the gut reactions I have to stimuli and the way it shapes how I turn observation into meaning.
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Emotional Theology: thoughts on and from James H. Cone's Black Theology and Black Power, Introduction

Emotional Theology: thoughts on and from James H. Cone's Black Theology and Black Power, Introduction

The second post in the series on the work of James Cone. Here I talk about Cone's criticism on objectivity and the need for our emotional response to injustice to shape the writing and performing of our theology. A prescient point in light of the current refugee debate and proliferation of inhumane treatment of those seeking safety.

Calls to ‘remain rational and objective’ are more often than not a ploy of those with power to dismiss the objections of those without (this is obviously not a new insight). It is easy to stay ‘rational’, ‘objective’, ‘cool, calm, collected’ when your body isn’t on the line – when your life, and the lives of your people are not at risk
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Thoughts on and from James H Cone's Black Theology and Black Power, Preface to the 1989 Ed.

Thoughts on and from James H Cone's Black Theology and Black Power, Preface to the 1989 Ed.

New Series: In this, the final year of my Masters, I'm writing a thesis based around the theology of James H. Cone, the father of Black Theology in the US - and one of my favourite theologians. Because of that I'm going to have to read a bunch of his books. This made me think, why not get a little synergystic and blog through the books of his that I'm reading. Cone is an undervalued theologian, and it is a shame how few people know him or his work. So if I happen, through this, to encourage people to check him out, then that's a win. Today is the first in this new series, beginning with the 1989 Preface to the 1969 work Black Theology and Black Power (Harper & Row, San Francisco). I'm also going to include companions (in forms of songs, readings, films, etc. along the way). This post also leads to some offshoot thoughts about Australia Day, the "Alt-Right", and X-Men. 

As Cone writes, “amnesia is the enemy of justice. We must never forget what we once were lest we repeat our evil deeds in new forms” (xi). Cone is applying this to himself and his silence on the oppression of women, and it needs to be something I apply to myself, to my own past (and present) misdeeds, shortcomings, mistakes, silence, and perpetuation of oppressive systems and structures against all those who are striving for justice (Indigenous Australians, women, the LGBTIQ community, migrants and refugees). It also needs to be something we remember as a community, about our past… and this makes me think about Australia Day…
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Advent! What do we do when the end is nigh?

Advent! What do we do when the end is nigh?

From Y2K to Mayan 2012, Titanic to the movie 2012... how do we live in light of the end.

There seem to be two broad responses: 1) hoard and withdraw 2) intensify living. The second is the proper response for Christians, and when understood and embraced helps remind us (particularly in mainline traditions) of why focusing on the end is so important.

This was the model of the early church. The earliest believers tended to think that the end was nigh – that Jesus’ return would occur in their lifetime, or perhaps the generation after. However this did not send them off into the hills, this did not cause them to be insular, closed off, and withdrawn. Far from hording, it actually caused them to be joyfully generous with their possessions. The early church intensified their ethical engagement with the world; they upped their neighbourliness and outward focus. They sought to care for those marginalised by society – widows, orphans, lepers – they shared what they had, giving to all who had need, they devoted themselves to their cause, and to the one on whom it was grounded. The presumed immanence of the end empowered them to live boldly, to love boldly, to care boldly – because any difficulties, any struggles, anything they had to go without, would pale in comparison to what was coming. Rather than withdraw, they sought to witness and live out a rehearsal to the world that would be ushered in by the forthcoming end.

This post is based on a sermon I delivered at Forestville Uniting Church on the First Sunday of Advent, 2016.

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3 Takeaways from Stephanie Buckhanon Crowder's WHEN MOMMA SPEAKS

3 Takeaways from Stephanie Buckhanon Crowder's WHEN MOMMA SPEAKS

Stephanie Buckhanon Crowder's insightful exploration of six Biblical mothers through the lens of womanist maternal thought is a book that I encourage everyone to dive into. It is accessible, yet rigorous; efficient, yet impactful. In this post I explore the three main takeaways I felt the book offered. I also interviewed the author recently, see it here.

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Sermon: Awaiting A Response

Sermon: Awaiting A Response

Habakkuk's prophetic book begins with a bang. Bursting open the doors of resigned apathy and quiet pietism by demanding of God a response to the violence and injustice he sees around him. I explore two responses, the first is direct from God, the second is found in Jesus' interaction with Zacchaeus.

... how many of those under the thumb of Zacchaeus, who’ve had to go without because of the taxes he levied, how many of those oppressed by his economic exploitation found solidarity with the words of Habakkuk – how many, when they heard the scroll of Habakkuk read in Synagogue thought of the violence and injustice inflicted upon them and their community by Zacchaeus, and how many cried out to God hoping for a response… and here, Jesus embodies that response and brings change.
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A Responsible Christianity

A Responsible Christianity

With my work with the Chaplaincy at Macquarie University we have been exploring the idea of a responsible theology - an expression of the faith which is responsible to the world we find ourselves.

"Because, and this has long been pointed out, too much theology is irresponsible. Theologies of submission and sacrifice have guilted too many women into staying in abusive relationships. Theologies of God as powerful monarch have made synonymous the good character of God with the virtues and traits of white male authoritative figures. Too many sermons on salvation as rescue have fostered utilitarian and anthropocentric views toward the non-human world. And this doesn’t mean that we can’t talk about, for example, Christ’s sacrificial and self-giving love, it just means that we should keep in mind the dangers and walk the path responsibly, offering the odd caveat or clarification."
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Content Overload

Content Overload

I'm coming to terms that sometimes I get a little overly fixated with receiving content - with packing my time (and mind) full of new information... in this piece I explore how this manifests in my, perhaps, overly enthusiastic love of podcasts.

 You don’t start any story with I love x, without love of x coming to be a problem and the protagonist learning to love x in a new more beautiful way 
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SICARIO, and being sent in the midst of wolves

SICARIO, and being sent in the midst of wolves

You will not survive here. You are not a wolf, and this is a land of wolves now. 

A reflection on the final line of the excellent film, SICARIO and Jesus' sending of us into the midst of wolves. Why do we need the mix of dove and serpent, of shrewdness and innocence?

Serpents are wise to the ways of the wolves, to the darkness of the land, and because of that serpents can be subversive in their resistance, crafty in their struggle. The shrewdness of the serpents allows us to sidestep repaying like with like, of believing that the only way to stop a wolf is to become a wolf... 
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The Preference of God and the Presence of Christ

The Preference of God and the Presence of Christ

A sermon from Refugee Week: The Preference of God & the Presence of Christ. Eastwood UCA, June 26.

"When God enters the Exodus narrative, it is not as some abstract principle or ethereal ideal that all can strive for. No, God enters the narrative decidedly and emphatically on the side of the oppressed Israelites. God takes sides against Pharaoh and the Egyptian oppressors."
"... when we act to greet the refugee, to offer welcome and hospitality – we are not solely performing acts of charity – we are encountering and welcoming into our midst the Risen Christ. Just like for those who fed the hungry or clothed the naked, or welcomed the stranger in the story of Matthew 25, what we do for them we do for Christ."
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Introducing Christianity

Introducing Christianity

As an intellectual exercise I chose 6 books from this millennium that I would pick as a kind of introduction/getting deeper into Christianity. Check out the what and the why and then sound off in the comments with what you would choose.

"After covering trends in world theology, the Godhead, and the crucifixion it's time to get into the Bible. Here, like with the following book, I decided that rather than an overview of the Old or New Testament I would go with a book on one book."
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James Cone and #BlackLivesMatter

James Cone and #BlackLivesMatter

How James Cone's ground-breaking, earth-shaking, woke-inducing, God of the Oppressed connects with the #BlackLivesMatter movement and speaks into (or against) the unfortunately too common response of 'all lives matter'.

Image of James Cone speaking at the Rall Lectures in 1969 in the Chapel of the Unnamed Faithful.

"Cone’s work grants a new perspective on those who criticise “Black Lives Matter”, insisting on the adoption of the ‘universal’, “All Lives Matter”. Cone (dealing with this before we had #’s) counters, that yes, all lives do matter, just as all are oppressed, but when the person contending that is not a member of the oppressed it becomes another way to silence those crying for liberation."
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Showers and Suffering

Showers and Suffering

I recently wrote a Biblical/theological reflection for Baptist World Aid Australia's BE LOVE magazine (exploring suffering and God). Click through to read my piece, as well as a bunch of great articles from other really tuned in folk, and check out/support the good work of BWAA. 

"Though it was not my only concern, I was haunted by the judgment brought down upon Job’s friends for their attempts to analyse and rationalise Job’s suffering – when God shows up in that story, these theorising friends are unceremoniously scolded (Job 42:7). A reminder to all who discuss suffering: Job’s friends were doing great, right up until the point that they opened their mouths."
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Tripp Fuller's Guide to Jesus as a movie

Tripp Fuller's Guide to Jesus as a movie

What if Tripp Fuller's excellent guide to Jesus was reimagined as a movie about a competitive home brewer who reflects on his relationship with beer as he travels across the country to a prestigious competition? 

You'd see that right? Well, read all about a movie that will never be made about a book that can easily be read, right here!

"Finally, as the road trip ends we catch up with the present, arriving at the great brew-off. Our young man, drawing on his journey, the wealth of experience he has pillaged and plundered, presents his beer."
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