“Spiritual realization is relatively easy compared with the much greater difficulty of actualizing it, integrating it fully into the fabric of one’s daily life. Realization is the movement from personality to being, the direct recognition of one’s ultimate nature, leading toward liberation from the conditioned self, while actualization refers to how we integrate that realization in all the situations of our life.”—
Jonathan Tran has written a thought-provoking article for The Christian Century titled "The New Black Theology." For those of us not theologically trained or current in the art, this piece may seem too heavy-duty and inaccessible. But, there are some fresh ideas in her that are so thoroughly intriguing that you should read just to be aware.
In the past five years, three seminal works have been published that, according to Tran, “represent a major theological shift that will — if taken as seriously as it deserves — change the face not only of black theology but theology as a whole.”
I can see why too. These new theologians argue that “the sources of racism (and the resources for its repudiation) lie in Christianity’s failure to live into its Jewishness:”
"Key to both Carter’s and Jennings’s work is their deep concern with the Jewish identity of Jesus. In The Christian Imagination, Jennings insists that only by affirming Jesus’ Jewish body can one comprehend the meaning of salvation. Gentiles were baptized into Jesus’ Jewish body, which continues and fulfills (and never denies) God’s covenant with Israel. Engrafted into God’s salvation of the Jews, the gentiles were saved insofar as the Jews were saved. It was Christ’s unique human-divine personage that integrated gentiles into Israel’s covenant life with God.”
Or take the idea that “black theology” is finding its own theological roots not in sources outside of the Christian tradition but in orthodoxy itself:
"By rethinking the Enlightenment’s promises of enlightenment and rearticulating racial existence in the language of the church’s most sacred doctrines, black theology is now (or once again) making a case that cannot be denied. The debate is no longer fixed on racial identity politics (a quagmire from which none can escape); rather, it takes place on the level playing field of orthodoxy.
The new theology reminds us that it was a mistake to call black theology “black theology” in the first place. Consistency at least would have required that European theology equally bear the burden of qualifications (“colonizing theology”). To be sure, patronizing name-calling allowed black theology to develop its own voice in its own time, just as the segregated black church developed its own styles, saints and stories. But because the margins were managed by white theologians, those voices were heard by whites, and when heard they were regarded as less than equal and so were not allowed to challenge white hegemony and help white theology be anything other than white theology.
Accordingly, the new black theology is best described as the new theology, no (dis)qualifying adjective necessary. In it we see Christian theology at long last incarnating the material conditions whereby the good news becomes good news.
I’d love to produce a show on the subject and the evolution of “black” theology as it is traced from James Cone to these contemporary theologians. The embodiment of Jesus’ Jewishness as a way past, or into, race for Christians is one of those ideas that our contemporary culture and politics could stand to hear about.
I’d dig hearing how you read this. Perhaps you have some voices you’d recommend I look into for possible interviews with Krista Tippett. Drop me a line in the comments section or at email@example.com.
In light of the horrific stories coming out of Gaza and Israel, I’d encourage all of us to listen to this interview we did with two remarkable human beings: Robi Damelin, who lost her son David to a Palestinian sniper, and Ali Abu Awwad, who lost his older brother Yousef to an Israeli soldier.
Instead of clinging to traditional ideologies and turning their pain into more violence, they’ve decided to understand the other side — Israeli and Palestinian — by sharing their pain and their humanity. They tell of a gathering network of survivors who share their grief, their stories of loved ones, and their ideas for lasting peace. They don’t want to be right; they want to be honest. No more taking sides.
Paul Holdengräber’s conversations at the New York Public Library are some of the freshest, most engaging events being conducted in the U.S. right now. For LIVE from the NYPL, he speaks with the smartest literary minds (e.g. Jonathan Franzen, Don DeLillo, et al) to some of the savviest musicians and hip-hop artists (e.g. Jay-Z, Henry Rollins, Pete Townshend). And, tonight at 7pm, Mr. Holdengräber will be in conversation with Andrew Solomon about his new book, Far from the Tree.
Krista will be in the audience for this one too. Word is if you use the code “FARFROMTHETREE” you’ll receive $10 off the ticket price listed. Here’s an intro to the event:
As a gay child of straight parents, Andrew Solomon was born with a sexual orientation that was considered an illness, but it became a cornerstone of his identity. As a journalist reporting on the growth of Deaf Pride in the 1990s, he began to consider illness and identity as a continuum with shifting boundaries. He saw the communities with such “horizontal identities,” spurred by the disability-rights movement and empowered by the Internet, were and are challenging the societal expectations and the norms surrounding identity.
Their stories begin in families coping with extreme difference: Dwarfism, Down Syndrome, Autism, multiple severe disabilities, or prodigious genius; children conceived in rape; children who identify as transgender; children who develop schizophrenia or commit serious crimes. The adage asserts that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, but in Solomon’s explorations, some apples fall on the other side of the world. In Solomon’s view, difference is what unites us.
For ten years, after interviewing more than 300 families, Solomon has observed not just how some families learn to deal with exceptional children, but also how they find profound meaning in doing so. In Far From the Tree , Solomon mines the eloquence of those who have somehow summoned hope and courage in the face of heartbreaking prejudice and almost unimaginable physical, mental, and emotional difficulty.
She sees poetry as providing the language that elevates and emboldens rather than demeans and alienates. And, despite these times when more and more of the world requires hard data and the certainty of facts, Ms. Alexander tells us what poetry works in us — and in our children — and why it may become more relevant, not less so, in hard and complicated times.
“The true struggle we are witnessing is not between believers and non-believers, but between two sorts of believers. Two ideals, two conceptions of the Divine, are confronting one another… A religion of the earth is being mobilized against the religion of heaven.”—
—Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, from Some Reflections on the Conversion of the World
In my ESL class I study with people from all over the world, not only learning English but simultaneously experiencing the beauty of other cultures. I have made new friends who are Hindus, Sikhs and Christians; and in the area where I live there temples, mosques and churches.
No country is perfect. But overall, I have been pleasantly surprised to see real examples of people living out tolerance, harmony and acceptance in my new home — and I hope that both Americans and Pakistanis can grow to better understand each other’s cultures.
Uncertainty, when accepted, sheds a bright light on the power of intention. That is what you can count on: not the outcome, but the motivation you bring, the vision you hold, the compass setting you choose to follow.
Our intention and our resolve can save us from getting lost in grief. … When we open our eyes to what is happening, even when it breaks our hearts, we discover our true dimensions, for our heart, when it breaks open, can hold the whole universe. We discover how speaking the truth of our anguish for the world brings down the walls between us, drawing us into deep solidarity. And that solidarity with our neighbors and all that lives is all the more real for the uncertainty we face. When we stop distracting ourselves, trying to figure the chances of ultimate success or failure, our minds and hearts are liberated into the present moment. And this moment together is alive and charged with possibilities.
When one hears a phrase like “The Great Turning” in a pitch session, veteran journalists may shy away (or run) from it. It’s somewhat difficult to make concrete and can sound rather soft and puffy. To some degree, this is true. But, my task was to acknowledge this response from our executive producer and staff — and then describe it, explain it more plainly, and make sure all knew why her voice is different. And then emphasize its importance and her wisdom as an elder this world needs to hear from ever so much.
“No politician, no party can deliver the utopian society they promise. Neither candidate is the hope of the world. As Christians, we believe that job is taken.”—
— Ben Irwin, a former publishing executive and Episcopalian Michigander, who has teamed up with two Mennonite pastors to create Election Day Communion.
The campaign is a network of more than 600 congregations of all denominations in all 50 states who have signed on to gather together on November 6th “to build unity in Christ in the midst of theological, political, and denominational differences” in “red states, blue states, and swing states.” The site leads with this manifesto:
Some of us will choose to vote for Barack Obama. Some of us will choose to vote for Mitt Romney. Some of us will choose to vote for another candidate. Some of us will choose not to vote.
During the day of November 6, 2012, we will make different choices for different reasons, hoping for different results.
But that evening while our nation turns its attention to the outcome of the presidential election, let’s again choose differently. But this time, let’s do ittogether.
It’s a noble effort that speaks to the premise of our own Civil Conversations Project, in which we aim to provide tools and ideas for healing our fractured civil spaces. This collaboration is one of those kindred projects that speaks to people’s yearning to achieve disagreement and work together.