Tag Archives: the Cross

Abortion, The Cross, And The Lynching Tree

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Content note: white supremacy, lynching, infantcide

In James Cone’s, The Cross And The Lynching Tree, he shares the story of Mary Turner. She was the wife of a Georgia lynching victim, Haynes Turner. “Mary, who was eight months pregnant, protested vehemently and vowed to seek justice for her husband’s lynching. The sheriff, in turn, arrested her and then gave her up to the mob. In the presence of a crowd that included women and children, Mary Turner was ‘stripped, hung upside down by the ankles, soaked with gasoline, and roasted to death. In the midst of this torment, a white man opened her belly with a hunting knife and her infant fell to the ground and was stomped to death.”- page 120.

No, not even black fetuses were safe from the claws of white supremacy. Cone notes that the “strange fruit” in Billie Holiday’s song is not a black adult male body. In fact, Holiday’s take on Abel Meeropol’s poem included a sexless black body. “No black person was exempt from the risk of becoming the scapegoat of white supremacy in America, not even the unborn, whose mothers, like Mary Turner, were lynched while trying to protect their families” (121).

As a pro-life progressive, I found the above quote fascinating for a couple of reasons. First, the unborn are included in Cone’s definition of person. Recently, in politics, the GOP has been pushing “personhood amendments” to work towards bans on abortion/overturn Roe v. Wade. The conservative view of personhood is faulty because they deny its sociality. The current conservative approach to the abortion debate includes an individualistic, privatized notion of sin, that makes women and doctors the lone scapegoats. And Given the fact that evangelicals are being more friendly with heresies like “conditionalism” where the immortality of the soul is dismissed, there are even more problems theologically. It is easy to consider a doctrine where souls are annihilated if you come from a culture where you’ve never been told that you are a soulless beast.

The second reason why I found Cone’s quote to be excellent is that Cone names the system of death responsible for the termination of Mary Turner’s fetus: White Supremacy. As a system of death, White Supremacy is a complex mixture of Anti-Black bigotry (the history of lynching sugarcoated, for ex.), male supremacy (a man rips outs the unborn child from Mary Turner), and social practices (mob rule & political officials not doing justice). Abortion is not an individual right to be celebrated or an individual sin to be punished for; it is a social tragedy that we should all lament over, and work for its reduction.

Pro-life progressives take a lot of slack for not being “strong enough” on abortion. But ask yourself, are the legalisms of the pro-choice and pro-life movements really benefitting the common good?

I leave you with Efrem Smith’s response to people on facebook questioning his Kingdom Approach to the abortion debate: Ephrem Smith’s abortion response

You probably have a few questions

RACING TO THE BOTTOM!

About the latest badge I have added to the sidebar:

despised ones logo cross

I was invited to join a Facebook group for Jesus disciples who also happen to blog. I think this post by Kelly J. Youngblood summed up the group’s philosophy quite nicely:

“And yes, I will fail at times. I will sometimes not be strong or courageous enough to do what is right, to follow what Jesus calls me to do. But being despised and practicing humility can teach us to put ourselves all on a level playing field. Not one of us is better than another. We are all fighting not to be at the top, but to be at the bottom.”

To see the rest:

The Despised Ones at Renewing Your Mind blog

Mel Gibson's The Passion Of The Christ

A PACIFIST HIJACKING

 

The Passion of the Christ

The Passion of the Christ (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Today was the very last day that Netflix would make available (according to my sources, could be wrong)Mel Gibson‘s The Passion Of The Christ. I have heard the worst and best that this movie had to offer. Was it going to be anti-semitic kinda like Gibson’s tendencies? Was it going to be heartwrenching and moving, taking me closer to the Almighty? The point of the violence, well the point of all movies, television, and visual media like them (YouTube videos,etc.) is to move us emotionally from one place to where the director wants us. When The Passion first came out, it was all about EMOTION EMOTION EMOTION. Isn’t it sad how Jesus was beaten, and bruised, and crucified for our sins?

Well, I would have been saddened if I had not been familiar with the story of the crucifixion. The problem is not the movie The Passion of The Christ itself, but the bad theology of the Cross that American civil religion has. American civil religion wants us to only talk about the Crucifixion during Eastertide, and really, some churches can’t even do that much during Holy Week. So I finally overcame my fear and watched this movie all the way through, and this is what I have to say. This is movie is not anti-Semitic, in fact, it went out of its way to have Jewish leaders have a vibrant debate about Jesus’ claims. The Roman Empire for the first 15 minutes were invisible, but after that, they were pretty prominent, and though a little to cheery of interpretation for my tastes (no mention of Roman polytheism with little mention of oppression, etc), I felt the depiction was okay.

The theology of the movie was left to be desired. The demonic baby held by satan was unnecessary, and while the Evil one definitely plays a role in Christian atonement theories, because this film was biased toward Substitutionary Atonement, the devil’s role was somewhat diminished from the classical/Christus Victor view. I was not moved by the violence or gory white body of Gibson’s Jesus; I was much more touched by Jesus’ teachings, to love our enemies, and forgive those who persecute us, the idea that eye for and eye, tooth for a tooth was not to be given over for the ethic of enemy love.

Anti-violence can be found in the Christus Victor atonement theory, the idea that the Son of God overcomes sin, disobedience, Satan, and death in one deed paints a beautiful picture of just how much God loves us. I really believe that a film like “The Victory Of Jesus of Nazareth” would work. For more on this view, I recommend a recent video series by evangelical preacher Greg Boyd: Penal Substitution Vs Christus Victor.

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