My rating: 2 of 5 stars
This is the first time I've read one of Melville's South Seas adventures. I didn't enjoy it as much as his later work.
View all my reviews
This morning's pastoral prayer at First Central Congregational UCC of Omaha:
Yesterday our brother James Cone died. Cone was one of the greatest American theologians. He was born and raised in Arkansas during segregation, and became the founder of Black Liberation Theology, a longtime professor at Union Theological Seminary, and an ordained minister in the African Methodist Episcopal Church.
Cone formulated a theology of liberation from within the context of the Black experience of oppression, interpreting the central kernel of the Gospels as Jesus' identification with the poor and oppressed, and the resurrection as the ultimate act of liberation. He has deeply influenced my theology.
In his masterwork, God of the Oppressed, he wrote, "Jesus Christ is not a proposition, not a theological concept which exists merely in our heads. He is an event of liberation, a happening in the lives of oppressed people struggling for political freedom." That understanding helped to empower my own work on equal rights for LGBT people.
And in his late great book The Cross and the Lynching Tree, which our Theology Brunch discussed in March, he wrote,
The cross has been transformed into a harmless, non-offensive ornament that Christians wear around their necks. Rather than reminding us of the "cost of discipleship," it has become a form of "cheap grace," an easy way to salvation that doesn't force us to confront the power of Christ's message and mission. Until we can see the cross and the lynching tree together, until we can identify Christ with the "recrucified" black body hanging from a lynching tree, there can be no genuine understanding of Christian identity in America, and no deliverance from the brutal legacy of slavery and white supremacy.
And his work convicts me of my sin, opening new paths for redemption and reconciliation.
Let us begin our time of pastoral prayer with a moment of silent reflection.
Gracious God. Thank you for sending us James Cone to be our teacher.
He taught us who Jesus was and is.
He taught us what the cross means. And the resurrection means.
He taught us how to be saved and liberated.
And how worship can empower us for the struggle of life.
He taught us who you are, God. That you are the God of the oppressed.
Without his teaching we might still be mired in misunderstanding and sin because of our racism and sexism and homophobia.
We might still be worshipping an idol.
As he is welcomed into your peace,
May his spirit ever live,
In power and glory.
And now we pray, as Jesus has taught us,
Our Father who art in Heaven,
hallowed be thy name.
Thy kingdom come,
Thy will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive us our debts
as we forgive our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom and the power
and the glory, forever. Amen.
This is more than a month old, but I wanted to share it.
Physicist Stephen Hawking died this week. Hawking inspired us to ask questions such as:
What do we know about the universe, and how do we know it? Where did the universe come from, and where is it going? Did the universe have a beginning, and if so, what happened before then? What is the nature of time? Will it ever come to an end?
He believed that one day science would develop a complete unified theory and then all humanity would be capable of discussing "the question of why it is that we and the universe exist." He wrote, "If we find the answer to that, it would be the ultimate triumph of human reason--for then we would know the mind of God."
Hawking of course was an atheist, so he was writing in metaphor when he spoke of God. But I've always been intrigued by how even science, when pushed to the outer limits of theoretical physics, sounds deeply spiritual and mystical.
And so today, as we enter our time of prayer, let's do so in awe and wonder at the marvels of our universe and our human ability to understand them.
Let us begin with a moment of silent reflection.
God of Time and Space,
You have surrounded us with wonder
And we are in awe.
You have also given us amazing powers
To explore and study and theorize and understand.
Our brains can build rockets that send probes billions of miles from Earth
In order to send pictures back to us revealing unimagined beauty.
We can develop theorems that in simple mathematics grasp profound truths about how the universe works.
We can imagine and dream and hypothesize not only about the very beginning of time and space but what might even be outside our own universe.
May we always defy our earthly and physical limitations.
May we always be curious.
May we always look up at the stars and wonder why.
Now, as our Savior taught us, let us pray:
An interview with philosopher George Yancy about white American refusal to face racism and white privilege.
When you talk about “whiteness” in the letter and book, what do you mean?
Whiteness is a structural, ideological, embodied, epistemological and phenomenological mode of being – and it is predicated upon its distance from and negation of blackness. This is what so many white people forget or refuse to see: their being racialized as white and socially and psychologically marked as privileged has problematic implications for my being black.
Whiteness is what I call the “transcendental norm”, which means that whiteness goes unmarked. As unmarked, white people are able to live their identities as unraced, as simply human, as persons. And this obfuscates the ways in which their lives depend upon various affordances that black people and people of color don’t possess.
White racism is thus a continuum, one that includes the KKK, the loving white Christian and the antiracist white. Even good, moral white people, those who have black friends, friends of color, married to people of color, fight for racial justice and so on, don’t escape white racist injustice against black people and people of color; they all continue to be implicated within structures of white privilege and to embody, whether they realize it or not, society’s racist sensibilities. White people possess white privilege or white immunity from racial disease. And because of this, others of us, black people and people of color, reap the social, political and existential pains of that racialized social skin.