Imagine, you are an enslaved African. Your grandmother, your great grandmother, your great great grandmother had all lived lives of bondage on plantations. It’s December 31st, 1862, New Years’ Eve.
And then the next day, you can walk away from it all, because of a piece of paper, a proclamation written down by an Illinois lawyer who was raised in Kentucky.
Although the Emancipation Proclamation was written under the auspices of war, for increasing the number of soldiers in the Union army, President Abraham Lincoln, ordered that that all enslaved Africans in the rebellious states were to be free.
It was “the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty three, and of the Independence of the United States of America the eighty-seventh” for Abraham Lincoln, but for the enslaved Africans, it was the Year of the Lord’s favor, (see Isaiah 61 and Luke 4), both declaring Good News to the enslaved, and the vengeance of God–since the Civil War was the consequence of the violence done against Africans in the U.S.
For further reflection, see the African American Lectionary.
Truth and Peace,
The very first James Cone book I read was in undergrad for the Religious Studies Senior Seminar was entitled My Soul Looks Back. And to this day, the professors sort of regret assigning us this text because it had very little to do with religious studies (the kind of religious studies we were doing anyhow, the religion as a science sort of thing).
I did not enjoy that book because it was about all the oversights Cone made in his work as well as a lot of autobiography. I did not know who Cone was or what else he had written. This was my introduction to Cone.
When I look back on 2009, someday I will recognize the good months more than the bad months. Right now, I am rather ambivalent about this particular 365 days. I will say if there was one word to describe my year it would be the term “conflict.” Some of the conflict I bring upon myself, and other times it goes unwanted. I guess debate is good every now and then, but every week? I can’t think of one week I went without some debate over race or religion or the interpretation of this or that passage with friends, colleagues, bloggers, adversaries, and yes, even facebook friends (former facebook friends too for that matter)!
Can’t we all just have an opinion?
I think through these conversations the greatest gift that 2009 gave me was an identity, as a Christian intellectual, an original approach to theological studies unlike anything I have imagined. I guess that what conflict is all about then. Growth. Change. Things we do not like often to deal with.
Lord Jesus, please us the year 2010, by your power, for your glory and honor.
Truth and Peace,