Monday, February 23, 2015

Lent 2015 - The Cross and the Lynching Tree - Introduction

NOTE: Throughout these blog posts, I will mostly be able to write through the narrow lens of my own experience. I am not well versed in critical theory, the study of race, or the discipline of history. Although I consider myself a practical theologian and a Christian, I would not say that I have the skill set of someone schooled in doctrinal, dogmatic or systematic theology or even ethics. I will probably stumble over ways of talking about what I am reading and my reactions to it. With these caveats, I would like to think that this is an appropriate place from which to engage this book. I would hope that this book would be read in churches and seminaries, classrooms and even homes, by people not well-versed in any of the disciplines I mentioned above. I am reading this book for the first time, and so my words, though I hope reflective and thoughtful, will be first time reactions. 

A general introduction to this blog series can be found here, and an index and schedule for the series can be found here.


Take a moment to read this NYtimes article and these responsive letters. Sit with them for awhile.

Okay. Now gauge your response. Are you shocked? Outraged? Numbed? Unsurprised? What emotions does this information evoke in you? Guilt? Anger? Sadness? Pity? In some ways, your response will be shaped by the extent to which the history of lynching in the United States has been taken up as a part of your own history.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

An Addendum to A Church Musician

An addendum of sorts to this post on identity. I discovered the following quotes from Wendell Berry the other day. It comforts me to know that one of my all time favorite writers doesn't obsess about writing. There's freedom in that. And I'm grateful.

From the Writer's Almanac blog:

He said: “I never felt like I had to write in order to be happy. It has given me great freedom as a writer.”

And: “I’ve known writers — I think it’s true also of other artists — who thought that you had to put your art before everything. But if you have a marriage and a family and a farm, you’re just going to find that you can’t always put your art first, and moreover that you shouldn’t. There are a number of things more important than your art. It’s wrong to favor it over your family, or over your place, or over your animals.”

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Lenten Reflections 2015: Schedule and Index

For Lent 2015, I'm going to be reading through James Cone's The Cross and the Lynching Tree. I invite you to join me, both to keep me accountable for actually doing this, and to reflect with me upon the experience. More information and a rationale for doing this can be found in the introductory post to this series. Below, you can find an index of all of the posts, which also acts as a schedule for reading. I will post a reflection upon the prior week's reading every Monday. So, if you're participating, please read the Introduction by Monday, February 23, Chapter 1 by March 2, etc. This index page will be updated with clickable links to each post after I publish them.

Lenten Reflection 2015: Introductory Post - posted on Tuesday, February 17
Introduction - Reflection posted on Monday, February 23
Chapter 1 - Reflection posted on Monday, March 2
Chapter 2 - Reflection posted on Monday, March 9
Chapter 3 - Reflection posted on Monday, March 16
Chapter 4 - Reflection posted on Monday, March 23
Chapter 5 - Reflection posted on Monday, March 30 - DELAYED
Chapter 5 and Conclusion - Reflection posted on Monday, April 6

Lenten Reflections 2015: Introductory Post

Lent is a complicated season. It's meant to be a time of spiritual preparation for the great celebration of Easter. As we head ever more into a social media age, it can become a badge of heightened spirituality—"look what I'm doing!!!" In some ways, I think this is contrary to its intent. The point of Lent, as I understand it, is not to prove how spiritual I am. It is, rather, to yearly strip away self in order to more clearly see the Living God, who not only died, but also rose and is out "on the loose," as a man named Donald Juel once put it. So, the point of Lent is not "Look at me," but "Where is Jesus?" The point—as Henri Nouwen and his cowriters, quoting Thomas Merton, put it in the book Compassion— the point is to "disappear from the world as an object of interest in order to be everywhere in it by hiddenness and compassion." [64] The point is to search for Christ, and one of the ways of doing this is by "disappearing" in order to be in solidarity with others, which is where, so often, we see Jesus [see Matthew 25:31-46].

So, why am I posting about Lent, then?