The Return of the Soldier
Two Good Lines

The Freedom of God

An excerpt from Kelly Brown Douglas' Stand Your Ground: Black Bodies and the Justice of God, a theological response to the murder of Trayvon Martin and other young African-Americans.

The transcendent freedom of God is essential for a black faith born on the soil of the oppressor's faith, directed presumably to the same God.  It was an awareness of God's transcendent freedom that enabled enslaved men and women to know that the God their enslavers spoke of was not truly God.  They recognized that their enslaver's God was as bound to the whips and chains of slavery as were their own black bodies.  Their enslaver's God was for all intents and purposes a white slave master sitting on a throne in heaven keeping black people in their place as chattel.  The black enslaved knew that this was not the God who encountered them in their free African lives.  They were certain, furthermore, that this was not the God they encountered in the Bible.  The God of their enslavers simply was not free.  The God of the enslaved, which they soon understood to be the God of the Bible, was free.  Doubtless, it was the African religious heritage of the enslaved that facilitated their profound understanding of God's freedom and transcendence.


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Nothing that somebody else tells you about who God is, or isn't, is true or even helpful unless it resonates with your (personal and shared) experience or deep memory of holiness. Something within recognizes God. I have an inner compass, and if someone authoritative and persuasive points southward toward where penguins and not polar bears live, and says, "There's God!" I might WANT to believe that person, I might be AFRAID TO DOUBT that person, but nothing he or she says is going to make the needle of my compass turn 180 degrees and point toward where the penguins live.** I love thinking about "God's transcendent freedom," with the sly humor smuggled in between the lines, implying that the enslavers were so enamored of their fiction about God, and so invested in making it true, that even God had best accept it. THAT God was not free NOT to. If there's Purgatory, it must be where ersatz God is stuck in therapy, eternally insisting upon being its own opposite....
** At least not for the next thousand years.

Scott Jones

Great line--"If there's Purgatory, it must be where ersatz God is stuck in therapy, eternally insisting upon being its own opposite...."

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