Tag Archives: Ferguson

Royal. Bodies. #StayWokeAdvent #Ferguson

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Over a week ago, NBA basketball star LeBron “King” James found himself in hot water after breaking a rule. While hanging out with Prince William and Duchess Kate, LeBron violated British royal protocol by wrapping his arm around Kate’s back. The bodies of the members of the British Royal family are national treasures, and palace officials work to make sure that particular customs are adhered to.

Today I would like to reflect on the Advent Lectionary selection, 2nd Samuel 7:1-11, 16 (NRSV). Because the personal is political, and vice versa, I purposefully chose what I believed to be the most difficult text to deal with during this season of repentance. The chapter itself brings a lot of baggage, and so if you do not understand the context (historical & theological), it becomes more about King David and his reign rather than the actual kin(g)dom of God. The prophet Nathan is approached by David and is asked whether or not David is the one to build YHWH’s temple.  Nathan at first approves of the project, but then that night, God speaks to Nathan, and tells him, hold up homey, I have other plans. Verse 6 says, “I [YHWH] have not lived in a house since the day I brought the people of Israel from,  Egypt, to this day but I have been moving in a tent and a tabernacle.”

Right away, YHWH is reminding Nathan the prophet and King David that the central story for Israel is THE Exodus. The story of God liberating the Hebrew people from the wrath of Pharaoh is the foundational narrative by which we understand God’s sovereignty. God’s freedom is a freedom for others, a releasing of the captives whose bodies are suffering affliction. The human body is of utmost importance to YHWH because in it is located the imago Dei, as well as the primary means by which God receives worship (READ: LOVE). Therefore, White Supremacist systems that value the value of one group of people over People of Color, especially Black men, are in direct opposition to the Kin(g)dom of God.

Because God has blessed humanity with embodied spiritual existence, ALL of our actions do matter. The books of 1st and 2nd Samuel are good reminders. When the Israelites reject the prophet Samuel as kyriarch Samuel first reminds them that YHWH was the divinity who reigned over them since delivering their ancestors from Egyptian oppression (1st Samuel 8:), and that with this new political structure Israel desired, there would be consequences: “He will take your male and female slaves” “He will take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks and bakers” “he will take your sons to be his horsemen” (1st Samuel 8:10-18). In each example that the prophet Samuel gives, he refers to the future king’s lordship over Israel’s children’s bodies. Israel’s monarch will become Pharaoh: “And in that day, you will cry out because of your king, whom you have chosen for yourselves; but the LORD will not answer you in that day.”

David is not allowed to build YHWH’s temple because he had too much bloodshed on his hands (1st Kings 8). What God does promise him however is that God “will raise up your offspring after [David], who shall come from [David’s] body” and YHWH then promises to establish that progeny’s kingdom. David’s throne will be made to rule forever (2nd Samuel 7:16). Now, it would be quite easy to spiritualize this promise, but we must not ignore the theological significance of the human body here. God’s shares God’s divine power with us human beings so that we may reign with God. The kin(g)dom of God is not some otherworldly reality in the great by and by; the kingdom of God takes place whenever the Holy Spirit is active and working within and between human bodies. The question is, what does the kin(g)dom of God look like in the here and now?

The Israelites failed to believe the words of the judge/prophet Samuel, and by the time King David rose to power in Hebron, it was too late. King David’s sexual assault set in motion events where the reign of God became absent. The murder of Uriah, the death of Bathsheba’s newborn child, and number of political conspiracies and military battles that were waged against David’s household. One must ask herself, “Where exactly is God’s kin-dom found during the days of King David?” Okay, really where was God’s reign found during Israel’s monarchies?

Might I suggest that God reigns and continues to rule through the prophets? Nathan, Samuel, Huldah, and Deborah and a number of YHWH’s prophets stood as God’s voice, re-telling the Exodus story and God’s liberating activity when it comes to human affairs. Israel could exist with a king. Israel could be perfectly fine without the military dictators in some instances that we read about in Judges. Israel could be Israel even while in exile. Why? Because God chose to execute God’s rule through the prophets.

Notice what Nathan says about YHWH, that Ya has been moving through tent and tabernacle. God prefers to be on the move, marching with suffering humanity in their struggles for justice. In the Gospel of John, chapter 1:14, the original greek means that YHWH set up God’s tabernacle in Jesus’ royal flesh. And where did the Logos take up residence? Christ was not to be found among the powerful, but the outcast, the sick, and his fellow first century Judeans who were being colonized and terrorized by the Roman Empire. In the wake of the #Ferguson movement, where are the prophets? The kingmakers of the world (the racist media) are vying to make Al Sharpton king once more so that they can control the narrative. Yet it is clear that there is no need for an earthly ruler when all of humanity has the potential to have the reign of God in their hearts. The Spirit of Jesus is working in the midst the women and men organizing and updating their fellow human beings on Twitter, marching the streets to #ShutItDown, to end the current anti-Christ system of police brutality and mass incarceration.

There is no need to look for messiahs to save the poor. Human beings can and must do it themselves.”- James Cone, Malcolm & Martin & America: A Dream or a Nightmare?, page 315

This has been my contribution to the Theology of Ferguson #StayWokeAdvent lectionary reflections.

Upcoming #AnaBlacktivism chats: #JamesConeWasRight & Bonhoeffer

Yes, that’s right, CHATS. PLURAL. Mark your calendars for two conversations on Theology and Race. Back in June, we had our first #AnaBlacktivist chat on Anti-Blackness, Liberation, and Shalom.

On Thursday night December 18th, 2014 at 8:00pm EST, over on Twitter, @AnaBlacktivism will host a conversation on #JamesConeWasRight (using this hashtag inspired by the labor of our friends Daniel and Terrence). Given the recent discussions nation- and worldwide about #Ferguson, #TamirRice, #EricGarner, racism, and police brutality, we at AnaBlacktivist Seminary wanted to highlight the prophetic words of Dr. James Hal Cone, and how his insights remain relevant to this day. Cone’s intellectual project in advancing an Anti-racist, anti-oppressive Christianity are now needed now than ever before. From his analysis of Blacks’ experiences, to his critique of pacifist theologians from the dominant culture, we hope you will join us in this important conversation about Cone’s theology. We will conclude the discussion with challenges and pushback, and a few critiques of Cone’s project.

[TO BE DETERMINED, A DATE AFTER CHRISTMAS DAY, STAY TUNED]: @AnaBlacktivism will host a discussion on Black Theology and Dietrich Bonhoeffer. For many, Dietrich Bonhoeffer is more than simply a martyr. For others, Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s legacy in his writings could be seen as a possible turning point in theology in the post-Christopher Columbus ERROR Era. While many scholars acknowledge the influence of Bonhoeffer’s encounter with Black church life in Harlem, it is usually downplayed. In this discussion, we will be talking about Bonhoeffer’s views on race, Western civilization, and Protestant theology. We will also discuss whether are certain texts in Bonhoeffer’s work that are problematic, and whether or not there is a way forward in re-reading Bonhoeffer for today.

If anyone wants to get a head start in preparing for either of these conversation, we would recommend watching this video of J. Kameron Carter at Lancaster Seminary: Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s Failed Blackness.

Linked here

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Synchroblog Returns! #TheNewPacifism: The Cost of Peace

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(banner provided by my friend Alan Hooker, who you can find blogging at here; feel free to use the banner if you participate in the Synchroblog, the link to the googledrive file can be found here: banner)

Back by popular demand, after last year’s success (and by success I mean the creation of a new dialogue), we are bringing back the The New Pacifism Synchroblog, and this year’s theme is The Cost Of Peace. In light of this year’s events, from the Protests in Ferguson to the actual riots during a Pumpkin festival, to the terrorizing menace ISIS, it’s time to do some theological reflection on what would be a New Pacifist response to these issues. Part of this year’s theme is inspired by Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s The Cost of Discipleship, and his distinction between cheap grace and costly grace. Likewise, in a similar vein as one of my mentors, Keri Day wrote about concerning Ferguson (for Syndicate Theology), when we speak of cheap peace, we

“refer to a temporary calm that comes from sweeping the hard truths of injustice underneath our societal rug so that such hard truths are out of sight and out of mind. It is a peace that is cheap because it costs us nothing. It bypasses the hard work that comes with truth telling and correcting deep systemic injustices. When there are calls for cheap peace, one must ask, “For whose benefit?” Does avoiding hard truths help to protect the marginalized and suffering or does it protect an abusive and oppressive system?”

What does a refusal of cheap peace look like in the face of ISIS? The xenophobic and racist Ebola crisis? The failure to push through immigration reform by the Obama administration and Congress? What are the possibilities and limits of joining Christian peacemaking efforts with a focus on intersectionality? With these questions in mind, I am now proposing this 2014 New Pacifism Synchroblog on The Cost of Peace. Tell us how your own view of peacemaking has developed or what you what the New Pacifism has to offer in today’s world. Here’s how to participate:

1. You can write your own blog post, telling us your own views on pacifism. The post can be written, it can be an assortment of GIF’s, pictures, a video, a video blog (vlog), a short quote. Don’t be afraid. Take a side, Pick a side, any side.*

2. Please link back to this original post so your readers and other readers can find your post to be collected in two weeks. Synchroblog collection ends December 9th, 2014 at 11:59PM Central Standard Time, USA.

3. Share your views on Facebook and Twitter, using the hashtag: #TheNewPacifism. I will try to collect as many facebook statuses and tweets using the #TheNewPacifism hashtag and Storify it in the final New Pacifism Synchroblog post.

4. Interact, engage people who you agree and disagree with. Show love and encourage one another peaceably, and above all, don’t be a troll!

*Side note if you don’t have a blog or social network or don’t want to share, but would like to participate, please use the PJ contact page to make a submission:

Contact Political Jesus

Meanwhile, if you want to go back and look at last year’s synchroblog goodness, check it out here!:

#TheNewPacifism Synchroblog & Storify

My own planned posts for this year’s Synchroblog include:

1. I plan to do an AnaBlacktivist update on a Series I once did for co-blogger Craig’s former blog, once entitled The God Of Peace, under a new title (to be determined)

part 1: ground rules; part 2: revelation (the Hebrew Bible); part 3: the Revealer (Christ Jesus); part 4: revolution (the chosen community of the Revealer, and nonviolence) ; part 5: resisting daily (concrete political & ethical proposals/practices)

2. Further reflections AnaBlacktivism, Christology, doing contextual Christology and ethics.

3.A Post on Micah 4, Jonah 4, and ISIS on forgiveness, repentance, costly grace and costly peace.

4. A post on Becoming An Unsettled Killjoy during Thanksgiving.

5. 1-2 posts on “My Peace I Leave With You”: Eschatology, the New Creation, and The Sabbath which will have implications for economic justice.

I plan to make all of my contributions to #TheNewPacifism to be my NaNoWriMo project for this year as well.