The BLM movement has issued a clarion call to the church, the black church in particular, to affirm a theology of resistance, not respectability. This means reckoning with who Jesus is.
After I received the request to review Kelly Brown Douglas's book, I kept seeing her main thesis displayed in the news.
In light of the annivesary of Trayvon Martin's killing, which is 2/26/12, I thought it would be appropriate to share 3 of my old posts that were written during that time. In many ways, Trayvon's death radicalized my mouth and pen to speak more truthfully and transparently about what was going on in me and our white dominated society. Each piece was different, and served various purposes and intentions. Let me know what stood out to you. If there was something you appreciated, disagreed with, or need more clarification on, please start a conversation below in the comment section. Of course, also remember these were written about 3 years ago, and so my thoughts have and are always maturing, and when necessary, radically changing directions and trajectories. May we all stand in solidarity with all the particular bodies that are more vulnerable than others in our society, as Jesus himself did in his own life.
Langston Hughes challenged our consciousness by asking, “What happens to a dream deferred?” What results when hope, aspirations, callings, and promises are delayed, put off, postponed, or thwarted? Were they flawed expectations? Do such deferred dreams become burdensome desires that fade and never manifest, forever haunting us? Six months after Michael Brown was fatally shot by a white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri—where I serve as a pastor—there are families still wrestling with the question, “What would have happened if...?”
Christ came to bring God’s kingdom to bear on earth. As people who follow the risen Christ, we cannot faithfully live into his kingdom when we are silent about those who are marginalized in our midst. Our leaders need to curate conversations about race and reconciliation. As people of God we must extend ourselves in risky ways to begin to break down the “other-ness” that exists between races in the larger body of Christ.
Some people see violence as an absolute wrong. Others see it as a sometimes necessary evil, with considerable variation as to just how often these times come up. I’m at the dovish end of the latter group: I believe that there are times—not many, not remotely as many as American foreign policy consensus or law enforcement norms would have it, but some times—when a violent action might be the least-bad available option. But a necessary evil isn’t a virtue; “least bad” doesn’t mean “good.”
Last week we drove 350 miles to Smith College, where our daughter was singing with the glee club at Christmas Vespers. Each year at a pair of services, campus and community enter liminal space by hearing sacred music from student choral and orchestral groups, pondering poetry and biblical readings by students and faculty, and singing carols together. This year it also became a setting to turn attention to other matters. As a Facebook event page put it, “You can’t sing carols if you can’t breathe.”
For black Americans, the abuse of power by police is not an aberration. It’s a familiar pattern.
What would it mean for us to be filled with the breath of God again and come to life for the sake of racial justice?
First, we condemn The Gospel Coalition’s editorial leadership for its moral and pastoral failure in publishing such an anti-black viewpoint. No Christian organization should ever participate in dishonoring the image of God in black people, especially at a time when so many black Americans are in pain. Second, we lament the internalized anti-black racism that Pastor Voddie conveyed in his article and the fact that it has been used to further support White-on-Black violence among Christians. Here, we offer a different perspective, one that we believe honors the image of God in black people.
At the vigil for Ferguson, I stumbled over singing "We Shall Overcome." I have remarkably little, personally, to overcome in my life.
"We are not afraid today," we sang as we walked. I turned to the person next to me and whispered, "That's a lie."