Saturday, March 28, 2015

Agree to Disagree: Millennials Talk Sex and Morals

When it comes to consensual sexual ethics among millennials, all behaviors are on the table … if the time is right. For the same generation in which no single religious group claims more than about one in 10, there is also little clear generational consensus on sex and reproductive health, a new report finds.

“Across seven behaviors related to sexuality [including: using contraception, sex between minors, unmarried cohabitation], there were no issues for which a majority pronounced them morally wrong in general,” the report, authored by Robert P. Jones and Daniel Cox at the Public Religion Research Institute, states.

Millennials prove a regular source of fascination for commentators and other millennials alike. This is the generation that launched a thousand think pieces, and understandably so — in study after study, millennials consistently defy both traditional categories and expected reactive categories alike. (We’re an obstinate bunch.)

When it comes to sex, PRRI’s new release highlights what its authors call “situationalist ethics” — a flexible set of acceptable behaviors. Far from displaying a lack of moral code, the report suggests millennials embracing nebulous but durable moral through-lines that eschew the “whats” of behavior for the “hows” and “whens.”

For example, in the case of sex between two adults who have no intention of establishing a relationship, millennials are evenly divided for and against (37 percent), with a significant number saying it depends on the situation (21 percent).

When it comes to abortion, most say it depends on the situation (39 percent), though more say it’s morally wrong than morally acceptable. Using artificial forms of birth control is by far the clearest point of agreement, with a full 71 percent saying it’s morally acceptable and another 14 percent agreeing, depending on the situation. Only 9 percent rejecting the use.

Read the rest here
Blogger Tricks

Friday, March 27, 2015

The Long, Ugly History of Racism at American Universities

Demands to rename Tillman Hall at Clemson University, the circulation of a video showing a racist chant at the University of Oklahoma, and the discovery of a fraternity pledge bookdiscussing lynching at North Carolina State University demonstrate how persistent racial issues are on college campuses.

Benjamin Tillman was a post-Civil War politician, racial demagogue, and participant in racial violence who was critical to Clemson University’s founding in the late-nineteenth century.

Tillman was not the only one. The University of North Carolina trustees are considering a request this week to rename Saunders Hall. The building was named in 1922 for William Saunders, a leader of the North Carolina Ku Klux Klan.

Buildings named after participants in racial violence and songs celebrating the segregation, as well as the lynching, of black people are not merely offensive. They recall the violence used to maintain all-white institutions for much of this country’s history.

In fact, colleges and universities historically have supported hierarchies of race and other forms of difference from their founding in the colonial era through the civil rights struggles of the late-twentieth century.

As a co-founder and director of the Transforming Community Project, I used the history of race at Emory University to help members of the university community understand the meaning of equity for the institution today.

In 2011, I co-organized “Slavery and the University: Histories and Legacies,” the first conference on the history of slavery and racial discrimination at institutions of higher education. Scholars and administrators from across the United States shared the troubled past of slavery and segregation of a majority of colleges and universities.

Read the rest here

The Southern Baptists’ Challenge on Race

In the wake of tragic shootings of unarmed black men at the hands of vigilantes and white police officers, many institutions across American society, from the president on down, have sought to foster “national conversations” about race.

Perhaps surprisingly, an agency of the Southern Baptist Convention is sponsoring one of the most important and fruitful such conversations. The SBC’s public policy arm, the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, has hosted a summit on racial reconciliation this week in Nashville, Tenn.

Founded in 1845 in a split over slavery, the SBC has made laudable efforts to overcome its racist past. Some moderate and liberal Southern Baptist leaders prophetically denounced racism and supported the civil rights movement, but those very leaders were forced out of the denomination during a period of conservative resurgence in the 1980s. (Today’s SBC leaders are in the tenuous position of saying that moderates were right about race but wrong about everything else.)

Southern Baptist leaders are determined to challenge the lingering indifferent or crude attitudes on race where they still exist among the denomination’s mostly white, mostly Southern constituency.

Charged with carrying out the SBC’s political priorities, the ERLC is best known for its advocacy for religious freedom and against abortion and same-sex marriage. Yet in the wake of unrest over last year’s deaths of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., and Eric Garner in Staten Island, N.Y., the ERLC hastened its plans to hold a summit on race.

The Nashville event drew more than 500 clergy, lay leaders, and seminarians from across Southern Baptist life. Thousands more watched a live stream online. The speaker lineup was male-dominated but was decidedly mixed race. The ERLC was much more eager to hear from ethnic minorities at this summit than it was to hear from gay people at its fall conference on homosexuality.

While the sexuality conference projected certainty and unanimity — acceptance of homosexual expression is inconsistent with Christianity and will not be tolerated in Southern Baptist churches — white Baptists came to their race summit with genuine humility and a spirit of repentance for the harm racism has caused.

Read the rest here

Thursday, March 26, 2015

#AAR Panel: God’s a White Racist: Ferguson, Black Death, & Racing Religion



Below is the description, written by Daniel White Hodge, of a panel that the American Academy of Religion (AAR) recently accepted to its 2015 Annual Meeting in Atlanta, Georgia, November 21-24.

Proposal:

W.E.B. DuBois’ historical and perplexing question “What meaneth Black suffering?” is highly applicable in an age where vulnerable Black bodies —men, women, young people—seem to matter little in a moment of proliferating and seemingly unstoppable racialized violence. Missing in the bevy of public discourse are queries such as, “How might “law” and “order” techniques among white police officers be connected to an American Christian hegemonic theodical ethos of “country” “certainty” and “protection.” Theologically speaking – god talk and rhetoric plays an uncanny role on both sides of justice seeking and continued violence. Darren Wilson claimed it was “God’s will” that he murder Michael Brown, while protesters and activist on the ground claim god as “on their side.” “Is God “another Black cop waiting to beat my ass,” as the rapper and Hip Hop prophet Tupac Shakur poignantly suggested? Does religion, more generally, have a role in the avenging of Black lives? And, “how does a God, who is socially portrayed as a “loving,” “caring,” and “kind” deity, react to the injustice had in cities like Ferguson in the U.S. and around the world?”

The events that hemorrhaged onto the national scene during the late summer months in Ferguson, MO animated the deep and complex issues of race in the U.S. – a place that has self-identified as sacred and just. To further complicate things, the media blurred the violent death of Michael Brown by casting him as a thug, deviant, and hardened criminal; in other words, as a devil, as someone who “…deserved to die.” The continuing significance of race in America is developing rapidly, add in Eric Garner, John Crawford, Dante Parker, Ezell Ford, Kajieme Powell, Tamir Rice, Renisha McBride and a growing number of Black youth viciously killed by White police officers, and you have is this: a New Jim Crow to use the title of Michelle Alexander’s groundbreaking text. With continued admiration, love, and social respect - police officers have been lifted up and portrayed as “god-like” and unmarked – not able to do wrong and above the fray of human biases and violent dispositions. As Ronald Weitzer and Steven Tuch remind us, “Americans are ambivalent about the police. WE are fascinated by them…television shows typically present the police in a sympathies light, even when they act aggressively”(2006, 1). Therefore, it stands to reason that a White police officer – constructed as unscathed and god-like will rarely be found guilty of killing a socially labeled “thug” or “criminal.”

From right ring pundits, evangelical mega church pastors, to dominant culture religious leaders and scholars of religion and theology alike, there is trouble and silenced trepidation in discussing such problems – often with a flawed logic that relies upon sacred/profane dichotomies and political designations (Sanders 2014). Come late November of 2014 and the non-indictment of Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson, the social media networks lit up with religious talk on race, police terrorism, and Black lives. Whether scholar of religion and theology, religious leader or politician – the color line fractured across race/ethnicity/class was clear and stark – some nerved into silence, others attempting to articulate why religious spaces and scholars of religion ought to address these concerns and activists on the ground, bewildered and struggling to grapple with race, religion, and the religiosity of a civil rights generation in what clearly were tactics of a post-civil rights age.

This panel critically engages what role, exactly, does (or ought) religion play in addressing race, suffering, vulnerability, and state sanction terror on black lives? More importantly, how has dominant culture created a hegemonic religious atmosphere in which one side is “right” and the other “wrong” regarding race? How are sacred/profane dichotomies used under seemingly secular vocabulary and rhetoric to sort, classify and categorize bodies according to perceived worth and value in American society? How has Western Evangelicalism created a block in furthering the knowledge, scholarship, and pursuit of racial awareness inside religious domains while remaining “neutral” or “non-biased” in approach and leadership? As Soon-Chan Rah reminds us, “Because theology emerging from a Western, white context is considered normative, it places non-Western theology in an inferior position and elevates Western theology as the standard by which all other theological frameworks and points of view are measured” (2009, 78).

Therefore, this proposed Wild Card session will explore a two-pronged approach to this current social crisis: 1) how ought religion/race be theorized and discussed? What role do they play in which lives matter? What role does the sacred/profane binary play as a rhetorical strategy and political designator? 2) How has media shaped religious and racial perceptions in the public sphere in Ferguson and beyond? How has black rage been projected in these spaces? What does religion have to do with this?. Papers presented will critically explore such questions from multiple perspectives, approaches and methods of analyses. Overall, this proposed Wild Card Session explores the scholarly intersections of race, class, religion, theology and region in the midst of what some are calling a “new civil rights/black power moment.”

References

Rah, Soong-Chan. 2009. The next evangelicalism : releasing the church from Western cultural captivity. Downers Grove, Ill.: IVP Books.

Sanders, Katie. 2015. Bill O'Reilly cites faulty data for claim about shooting deaths of blacks, whites by police. Politi Fact.com 2014 [cited 2/27/15 2015]. Available from http://www.politifact.com/punditfact/statements/2014/dec/04/bill-oreilly/bill-oreilly-cites-faulty-data-claim-about-shootin/.

Weitzer, Ronald John, and Steven A. Tuch. 2006. Race and policing in America : conflict and reform. New York: Cambridge University Press.


PANELISTS

Ralph Watkins: Associate Professor of Evangelism and Church Growth, Columbia Theological Seminary

The Generational Divide in the Black Church: The Future of the Prophetic Witness in a Time of Crisis

This paper looks at the response of the African American church to the series of deaths of African American males at the hands of the police. Specifically the response of Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, Georgia that is led by pastor, Rev. Dr. Raphel Warnock is the focus of this paper. In response to the national crisis Pastor Warnock convened a gathering of national and local leaders for a conversation at Ebenezer Church. On that evening the United States Attorney General, Eric Holder, was the keynote speaker. The mayor Atlanta, Kasim Reed, Bernice King, Wyatt Walker and other dignitaries were also present and spoke as well. What was evident that evening was that there was a generational divide and an attack on the Black church by the young adults at the event. Aurielle Marie Lucier, the leader of young activist, Young People for (YP4) and Its Bigger Than You, walked out of the meeting after speaking and proceeded to go outside and hold a rally with her peers. Aurielle and her peers were not buying what the elders were selling. They saw this issue radically different than did the elders in the packed church that evening.

This paper is supported by my video and still images that record the event. The still images and video support the argument the paper suggest about the divide between young adults and the African American church. The paper explores the reasons for this generational divide and suggest possible ways the institutional church can partner with young adult activist organizations to construct an activist agenda appropriate for the future of the institutionalized African American church. The paper explores the prophetic tradition of the African American church while raising the central question: Are the today’s prophets living outside of the institutionalized church thus making us rethink what we label prophetic faith in this age?


Monica Miller, Assistant Professor of Religion and Africana Studies, Leigh University

When God ‘Aint Good and Humans ‘Aint Better: Ferguson, Black Death and the Monstrosity of Religious Rhetoric

From George Zimmerman’s claim that “it was god’s plan” that he murder Trayvon Martin, to Darren Wilson’s racialized portrayal of Michael Brown as a Hulk Hogan like demon with superhuman powers to charge through bullets, to the silence among atheistic, humanist and free-thought communities as well as many (white) scholars of religion in response to the proliferation of state sanction murders of black and brown bodies at the hands of police and vigilante justice to claims that god is a “white racist” – religious and theological language has played a precarious role in shaping social, political and civic responses – some well-intentioned, some explicitly racist, some in the “spirit” of justice-making and seeking – but all seemingly undergirded by a counterintuitive logic that has failed to generate a critical conversation regarding “religion’s place” in responding to these ongoing societal concerns. This paper explores the competing strategies, uses and tactics of religious and theological rhetoric that helps to mediate the various “operational acts” of competing methods of black social protest with an eye towards black skepticism and addressing the problem of “evil” in an age of political correctness.


Andre E. Johnson, Associate Professor of Rhetoric and Religion and African American Studies, Memphis Theological Seminary

Race, Ruckus, and the Color of God: A Spirituality of Ferguson

William R. Jones in his book “Is God a White Racist” challenged James Cone’s liberation ethic that argued God was (and is) on the side of Black people because God is on the side of the oppressed. What Jones surmised was that the hell many black folks go through, surely this God, who Black folks continue to cry out to and wait upon, this God must be a white racist. Cone and his supporters had an answer—God is not a white racist because we serve a black God. However, with the death of Michael Brown and the subsequent protests in Ferguson, many questioned the blackness of God. If God is Black, some may suggest that “God is an Uncle Ruckus.”

In this paper, I first examine the notion of a “racist” and “black” God through the theologies of Jones and Cone. Second, in keeping with the spirit of the panel, I examine how God functions for some of the activists and protesters in Ferguson. Finally, by examining ways churches have responded, I argue that Ferguson has also opened up new avenues for the church to respond.


Performing Resistance: Hip Hop’s Fight Against Institutional Racism in St. Louis, Missouri

Police officer Darren Wilson’s killing of Michael Brown on August 9, 2014 is part of an endemic system of structural racism against Blacks in St. Louis, Missouri. This interconnected system entails racialized spaces with low rated air quality, disparate health care, unfair housing practices, failing schools, commercial redlining, over -policing and an unjust justice system. Three emcees from St. Louis: Kareem Jackson (Tef Poe), Travis Tyler (Thi’sl) and Marcus Gray (Flame) have responded. They uniquely understand the effects of racialized oppression in St. Louis. Several modes of activism are necessary to fight the interconnected system of institutional racism.

Using a performance studies theoretical framework, this paper will analyze the repertoires of Tef Poe’s, Flame’s and Thi’sl’s performances and their activism. Tef Poe does not identify as a “conscious rapper” or a Christian but asserts he is religious. He led protests, performed during Ferguson October and testified before the United Nations Committee Against Torture. Flame and Thi’sl are overtly Christian. Flame held Hope for Ferguson which was a “buycott” and included a live concert. Thi’sl organized Hope for the City which involved a prayer meeting under the Arch in St. Louis and a concert. Hip Hop, as a form of protest, has responded in St. Louis and provided illustrations for combating the evils of racism.

Paul and Cone: Misogynist or Misunderstood?

by Katherine Whitfield
R3 Contributor


Recently, I had the opportunity to read Sandra Polaski’s A Feminist Introduction to Paul for a class in New Testament studies. One of my fundamental takeaways from Polaski’s work was a better understanding of how, specifically, I might conduct my own academic study of biblical texts. I was raised in the Episcopal Church, where little emphasis was placed on the importance of biblical study outside the confines of the church or Sunday school setting, and the schedule for incorporating a few Scripture verses into the worship service each week – an Old Testament reading, a Psalm, an Epistle and a brief Gospel excerpt – rotated such that our congregation might go several years before encountering the same passage twice. Most any time I read or sought out Scripture independently of the church, it was primarily for personal application as a source of comfort or encouragement. My understanding of the Bible’s function, spiritually speaking, was as salve for a burn – not as the source of the fire.

Polaski’s examination of Paul’s masculinity and its impact on the Pauline texts was profoundly informative for me. I studied creative writing and literary theory as an undergraduate, and often we were instructed to disregard the idea – or at least, the function – of authorial intent. But in the context of Scripture, when a human author is understood by many as a conduit for the Divine, I believe the context and intentions of that human author ought to have tremendous bearing on the lens through which we view their text. Though I’ve never possessed an extreme opinion toward Paul, I’ve harbored an awareness of what I perceived as his misogynistic tendencies, and Polaski’s analysis of Paul’s maleness softened my perspective toward him and helped me to better understand Paul as a product of his social environment. Specifically, her examination of the structures of Greek language – “often serv(ing) to make women even more invisible than do English language structures” (16) – and her overview of the cultural belief of the “one-sex model” (18) granted me insight into some of the sociological factors working against an ideology of inclusion. Juxtaposing Polaski’s assessment that Paul’s frequent use of “metaphors of battle and soldierly conduct” (13) functions as an extension of his masculinity with biblical scholar Warren Carter’s observation that within the New Testament, “the military language is used without comment, suggesting it is deeply ingrained in these writers who live in the midst of Roman power” (26), Paul is construed as a product both of his maleness and of his Roman roots. In Polaski’s words, “Paul was in many ways a typical man of his day” (25).

A great deal of my theological studies thus far have centered on black and womanist liberation theologies, and with the notion of Paul as a typical man in mind, I was surprised to find that a comparison emerged in my reading between Paul’s treatment of women in his texts and the treatment of women in the early texts of the black theology movement. James Cone, for example, failed to incorporate, or even acknowledge, the black female perspective in several of his earliest published works, and these texts function today as some of the most foundational works of the black theology movement. Cone, however, exists in an age when the scholarly writings of women are preserved, not discarded, and when his own female students – such as founding womanist Jacquelyn Grant – could help bring the role of women to his academic attention without fear of retribution. On the contrary, Cone gave rise to Grant’s voice, atoning for his initial exclusion of women and attempting to make amends in later writings by lending significant weight to the womanist perspective.

Polaski’s interpretation of the Pauline texts suggests that “Paul does not specifically exclude women…rather, they are invisible to him” (17), and Grant uses the same rhetoric against Cone (among others) in her essay titled “Black Theology and the Black Woman.” Grant asks the question, “Where are Black women in Black Theology?” and responds, “Black women have been invisible in theology because theological scholarship has not been a part of the woman’s sphere” [emphasis added] (421). I have turned a critical eye toward Paul for his contributions to the marginalization of women while extolling James Cone for his contributions to a progressive liberationist theology, and Polaski’s depiction of Paul as a product of his environment underscored for me the hypocrisy of my stance, encouraging me to hold my thinking a bit more lightly. My intention is not to dismiss either author with a jovial absolution of “boys will be boys,” but to take into greater account the world behind each man’s texts. Just as I have viewed – and will almost certainly continue to view – James Cone not as a misogynist, but as someone bound between an old and a new way of thinking attempting to effect significant change, Polaski’s text is enabling me to evaluate Paul more fairly against the backdrop of his early Roman context while allowing the Pauline texts to breathe and evolve within my own context. For what if Prisca or another female colleague had asked him, “Where are women in your theology?” As Polaski so deftly surmises, if Paul had been directly questioned about the role of women within his texts – and if record of such a conversation survived him – the texts suggest that Paul, like Cone, would have acknowledged his intended inclusion, and perhaps his canon would even include evidence of attempts to make amends. But, as Polaski notes, “he was not asked, and it did not occur to him” (25).

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Is Ted Cruz Running for "Theologian-in-Chief?"

Today (March 23, 2015) Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) announced his candidacy for the presidency. He did so via video-tweet early in the morning and will follow the social media announcement up with a formal declaration of his bid for the White House at Liberty University. He is the first candidate to formally announce his campaign for 2016.

Liberty University, the largest Christian university in the U.S. and extremely influential among evangelicals, was founded by the late Jerry Falwell Sr. and it regularly plays host to political leaders and faith-filled influencers. For example, last year's commencement address was given by Gov. Bobby Jindal (R-Louisiana) who also might be running for president in 2016.

Given the location of Cruz's announcement and the fact that his senatorial state, Texas, is renowned for both its Bible belt mentality and a growing diversity of faiths in its major urban centers it makes sense to wonder what makes Cruz's soul tick. This is pertinent to apperceiving how this might shape the way he campaigns, governs, and represents the U.S. not only in the halls and chambers of the U.S. Capitol, but potentially in the White House. Furthermore, will it have an impact on Cruz's performance in the primaries?

Back in 2012 when Cruz was running against Paul Sadler (D) in the race for U.S. Senator I had the chance to talk to him about his faith. Cruz was congenial and kind, relaxed as he gave his interview in the early hours of the morning.

Cruz grew up in a Christian home and is Baptist. He sees his faith and spirituality as an integral part of his character, but was careful to remind me (and yes, you the voter as well) that he holds it at arms length when it comes to policy decisions and governance.

Cruz attended Faith West Academy in Katy, TX, a conservative and expanding suburb west of Houston. He later went to Second Baptist High School. Both Faith West and Second Baptist are among the top ten largest, and influential, Christian schools in the Bayou City. His wife and he are members today at Houston’s First Baptist, another large and affluent congregation in Houston.

Read the rest here

Why the Term “Social Justice” Needs to be Eliminated from Christian Language

This is a case in how you should re-read your bible. More specifically, this is a case from a Black man who’s a Jesus follower that grew up in a single-parent home in poor neighborhoods throughout the Southside & suburbs of Chicago and who’ve lost too many friends & loved ones to gun violence, police brutality, and poor health. Either America will kill us or oppress us long enough to kill ourselves… I want to make my position clear (that’s a cue for you white theologians who actually believe the bible can be understood objectively without subjective bias [like John Piper] – and those who’ve bought into their epistemological tradition [like Lecrae] – to leave because the rest will just piss you off) so this can be more of a conversation & dialogue than a rant. I want to talk, but you gotta listen. So… What is social justice? Well the best definition I’ve found that correlates to how most Christians understand it comes from the National Association of Social Workers:
Social Justice is the view that everyone deserves equal economic, political and social rights and opportunities. Social workers (and Christians) aim to open the doors of access and opportunity for everyone, particularly those in greatest need.

Sounds beautiful right? So Christians go to Africa, open clinics and schools, create housing & feeding programs, join politics, etc. so everyone can have equal access to education, health and opportunities others take for granted….and that’s exactly the problem. Why? Because Jesus wasn’t just about that. The purpose of taking care of kids, getting people healthy and educated, etc. was not just because we’re all image-bearers of God and should be treated as such – but for Jesus it was to lead to his true vision… REVOLUTION (this is where those afraid of the term ‘Black’ start freaking out because they subconsciously assume that means those with a darker hue of skin grab guns and start lashing out on white people. The term ‘African American’ makes those with a darker hue palpable for the white imagination. Probably because of the term “American”. Black has no “America” attached to it so I guess it conveys more of a resistance than a people). So what is revolution? I’ll sum up a definition from Wikipedia:
A fundamental change in power or organizational structures.

But if that doesn’t satisfy or paint the picture, here’s a quote from Huey Newton:
“If a man rises up against a power as great as the United States, he will not survive. Believing this, many Blacks have ben driven to a death of the spirit rather than of the flesh, lapsing into lives of quiet desperation. Yet all the while, in the heart of every Black, there is the hope that life will somehow change in the future. I do not think that life will change for the better without an assault on the Establishment, which goes on exploiting the wretched of the earth.”

Read the rest here

Monday, March 23, 2015

The Policing of Black Bodies: Racial Profiling for Profit and the Killing of Ferguson’s Mike Brown

#JusticeforMartese: This Time, It Was Personal

by Jessica Johnson
Special to R3

You've probably already heard of Martese Johnson and the incident near the campus of UVA. Maybe you heard on twitter with the trending hashtag #JusticeforMartese. Or maybe we found out the same way, the video of police forcefully arresting Martese Johnson.

Unfortunately Martese’s story is not a unique one of police brutality against black men. Time aftertime in the news we have heard stories of innocent black men being shot or arrested with little to no motive for their arrest. It seems like it happens so often that we become numb to the situation. We cry over black lives for a moment because we do believe that they matter, but then we go along with our lives, because they weren't our friends. We don’t know them and our life wasn't affected. During the Trayvon Martin investigation the president released this profound statement. “Trayvon Martin could have been me 35 years ago.”

These incidents should scare us. Scare us enough so that we would get up and do something about police brutality against minorities. Reiterating what our president has said, it could have been one of us, or someone who mattered to us.

It took the pictures of Martese’s face to scare me. Because Martese was personal. He is my friend. I met Martese in the summer of 2011 at UVA during the LEAD Business program and we have been friends ever since. LEAD is a summer program for exceptional minority students. Black Lives mattered to me when
I saw my dear friend in that awful video. It took my friend being beaten up for me to become more vocal in the movement. So what is it going to take for you to get upset? Your friend? Your family member? It doesn’t matter who the victim is. It should be personal and frighten us enough to take immediate action. If we continue down this path of not caring, we are allowing this to happen to more black lives and minorities in the United States.

Jessica is a student at Rhodes College in Memphis, Tennessee

Call for Papers: Understanding Rhetoric(s) of Race




Special Issue of The Journal of Contemporary Rhetoric 
Topic: Understanding Rhetoric(s) of Race


Guest Editor: Andre E. Johnson

There has been much recently in the media in regards to race and racism. From the George Zimmerman acquittal to the killing of Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, Eric Garner and others from police officers; from the continued protests in Ferguson, to the incident involving members of Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity and lately, the alleged hanging of a black man in Mississippi, race, how it functions, and more importantly, how we communicate it has been at the forefront. At a time when many are calling for reconciliation and the proverbial “conversations on race,” racism and racist rhetoric still abounds.

With this in mind, the editors at the Journal of Contemporary Rhetoric invite submissions for a special issue focusing on the intersection of rhetoric and race. The goal is to offer new insights that will begin to frame future communication studies on race, racism, and racialized discourses. In keeping with the mission of the Journal, we seek papers that “promote public intellectualism by providing scholarly analysis of current events. The essays in Journal of Contemporary Rhetoric should add to the public discussion of current events and help the public understand more fully the theoretical underpinnings of public debates and controversies, political discourse, social movements, and media events.”

Therefore, we are interested in essays that will contribute to our current knowledge of the rhetorics of race, while revealing their historical and cultural significance through detailed case studies of discourse across a wide range of contemporary contexts. Moreover, our hope is to demonstrate ways racial knowledge and power becomes possible through rhetorical inquiry.

Possible topics include (but are not limited to):

The Events in Ferguson
Race and Mediated Images 
Race and Politics
Race and Policing 
Race in “Post-Racial” America 
Race and Class 
Race and Gender
The Black Lives Matter Campaign
Whiteness Studies
Implicit Racial Bias
White Anxiety and Black Respectability
The New, “New Black”
Race and Religion

Deadline: Abstracts (100-200 words) are due by April 15, 2015. By May 15, 2015, acceptance notifications will go out. Once accepted, complete papers (no more than 20 pages, including bibliography) are due September 15, 2015. The preferred style of the Journal is Chicago Manual of Style. (You also can read other submission requirements for the Journal here). You are to mail abstracts and papers to Andre E. Johnson at ajohnson@memphisseminary.edu. Please write in the subject line JOCR. In addition, please note that we will subject all submissions to a double-blind peer review and invited submissions are not a guarantee of publication.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Martese Johnson and The Rhetorical Talisman: 'I Go To UVA'

Journalists, pundits and authors love to claim how "hard" it is for them to write certain stories.

Sometimes this is just a cheap emotional trick to draw in the reader, other times it is a sincere way of acknowledging just how hard it is to put pen to paper, fingers to laptop, and express cogent ideas without breaking into a tearful belligerent rage of pent up feelings.

As a black man, a University of Virginia alumni and as someone who has covered discriminatory police violence against black men and women the last two years, my hands were literally shaking over my laptop as I tried to write about the beating of Martese Johnson.

I kept hearing his scream, "I go to UVA You F***s" as cops knee him in the back, face beaten and bloodied in a public street in front of all of his classmates. It is a nauseating reminder that no amount of education, poise or good behavior can protect a black person in America. We are all, one cop, one vigilante one maniac away from being racially victimized regardless of what investigations come afterwards.

I tend to avoid what I call "racial ambulance chasing." As a political scientist, my focus is usually on policy, government and political campaigns, every racial outrage doesn't deserve MY rage, scorn or shaming. I didn't plan on pouring out Gen X racial rage on screen, but 48 hours changed that for me.

Read the rest here

The Current State Of Prosperity Gospel

#MarteseJohnson's Arrest And Being Black On Campus

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Jesus Wants Me to Have This Jet

God wants Pastor Creflo Dollar to have a $65 million private jet, according to paid spokesman for God, Pastor Creflo Dollar.

On Friday, Dollar’s website unveiled Project G650, an “airplane project” that he claims has something to do with “Understanding Grace” and “Empowering Change.”

You may be wondering, What could this mysterious, holy airplane project be? Probably something related to charity, you must think, like air-dropping food into famine-ravaged countries, or flying sick children to doctors, or lifting two of every animal out of a flood.

Not quite.

Dollar was once the proud owner of a pretty baller private jet, but now it’s old and, naturally, he wants a new one. He also wants his followers to pay $65 million for it. As Jesus intended. 


On his website, Dollar made his case: “The ministry’s current airplane was built in 1984, purchased by the ministry in 1999 and has since logged four million miles. Recently on an overseas trip to a global conference, one of the engines failed. By the grace of God, the expert pilot, who’s flown with Creflo for almost 20 years, landed the plane safely without injury or harm to any passengers.”

Dollar claims the private jet allows him to “safely and swiftly share the Good News of the Gospel worldwide” in a way that commercial aircrafts no doubt just couldn’t.

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Evangelicals and Their Love for Israel

When Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu flew to America recently to deliver a controversial address to Congress, it struck some as bizarre that his loudest supporters were evangelical Christians.

For instance, a reader emailed me:

"I am confounded by the lovefest for Netanyahu in Washington this past week, and am sickened by the fawning over any foreign leader, but am confounded by the evangelical outpouring for a man who represents a religion that doesn't believe that Jesus is the son of God. How is it that Christians find themselves in this position?"

I've heard and read similar questions whenever evangelicals voice unconditional support for the Jewish nation, as they have since its establishment almost 70 years ago.

Underlying the confusion is that evangelicals possess a reputation for being the hardest-core of Christians. They're the ones who take the New Testament most literally. They tend to believe nobody but born-again Christians can go to heaven.

How can they love Israel so?

Well, this all has to do with the Second Coming of Jesus and the end of the world.

I'm serious. That's not hyperbole.

Before I explain, I need to offer a few disclaimers:

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Read more here: http://www.kentucky.com/2015/03/14/3747126/paul-prather-evangelicals-love.html#storylink=cp

Sunday, March 15, 2015

A Christian Nation? Since When?

AMERICA may be a nation of believers, but when it comes to this country’s identity as a “Christian nation,” our beliefs are all over the map.

Just a few weeks ago, Public Policy Polling reported that 57 percent of Republicans favored officially making the United States a Christian nation. But in 2007, a survey by the First Amendment Center showed that 55 percent of Americans believed it already was one.

The confusion is understandable. For all our talk about separation of church and state, religious language has been written into our political culture in countless ways. It is inscribed in our pledge of patriotism, marked on our money, carved into the walls of our courts and our Capitol. Perhaps because it is everywhere, we assume it has been from the beginning.

But the founding fathers didn’t create the ceremonies and slogans that come to mind when we consider whether this is a Christian nation. Our grandfathers did.

Back in the 1930s, business leaders found themselves on the defensive. Their public prestige had plummeted with the Great Crash; their private businesses were under attack by Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal from above and labor from below. To regain the upper hand, corporate leaders fought back on all fronts. They waged a figurative war in statehouses and, occasionally, a literal one in the streets; their campaigns extended from courts of law to the court of public opinion. But nothing worked particularly well until they began an inspired public relations offensive that cast capitalism as the handmaiden of Christianity.

The two had been described as soul mates before, but in this campaign they were wedded in pointed opposition to the “creeping socialism” of the New Deal. The federal government had never really factored into Americans’ thinking about the relationship between faith and free enterprise, mostly because it had never loomed that large over business interests. But now it cast a long and ominous shadow.

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Friday, March 13, 2015

A “Soft Place to Land" for African American Humanists: An Interview with Anthony Pinn

As the Humanist community strives to become more inclusive, many African-Americans find themselves asking: where do we fit into this all? Although religious and political life is nuanced within any group, African-American Humanists struggle to figure out what it means to function in a society that assumes they do not exist. That is, there does not appear to be a space for them in the Humanist community and from American society’s perception at large, they are assumed to be theistic.

In the public sphere, African-American religious life is often associated with theism, so much so that it is almost unheard of to whisper the words atheist, agnostic, or Humanist for fear of being reprimanded, or discriminated against. While the African-American Humanist community is growing, the community is still quite taboo in most spaces.

Anthony Pinn, Agnes Cullen Arnold professor of Humanities and Professor of Religion at Rice University, recently spoke at the Yale Humanist Community’s Humanist Haven about this tension. Pinn’s talk consisted mostly of sharing his personal journey from Christianity to Humanism. From boyhood until adulthood, Pinn was drawn to working in the church—often taking on roles that allowed him to work with people in need. Pinn found, however, that theism did not give him the framework necessary to help members of his congregations. He felt that his job was less about making real change in the lives of those around him, and more about “keeping the congregation happy.”

Pinn’s decision to leave was complicated by the fact that he did not see Humanist communities as particularly welcoming to people, specifically African-Americans, who may be struggling to put together a new communal identity without theism. It is clear from his talk that Pinn understands how leaving a faith community can be hard on any person but he wants to say that for African-Americans it’s larger than simply leaving a tradition; it is leaving a tradition that for hundreds of years has helped your people make sense of their space in the United States.

One of Pinn’s most notable ideas during his talk was his notion of creating a “soft place to land” for African-Americans moving towards Humanism. Humanist communities, according to Pinn, must be aware that moving into a space of Humanism is not as simple as calling yourself a “Humanist” or moving away from religious ways of thinking. African-Americans leaving theistic traditions, and specifically Christianity, are leaving cultural support systems.

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Thursday, March 12, 2015

Evangelicals, Politics, and Immigration Reform

Lifeway Research, which conducts surveys on evangelical attitudes on a variety of issues, released a new poll today, finding that a majority of evangelicals want to see Congress pass immigration reform.

The survey, conducted on behalf of the Evangelical Immigration Table and World Relief, the humanitarian arm of the National Association of Evangelicals, found that “more than two-thirds (68 percent) of evangelicals say it is important for Congress to take action on immigration reform this year. And half (50 percent) are more likely to vote for a candidate who supports border security and citizenship.”

The poll, which included non-white evangelicals, produced some stark contrasts, with 79 percent of Hispanic and 74 percent of African American evangelicals favoring a path to citizenship, and just 54 percent of white evangelicals supporting it. Still, it’s notable that a majority of white evangelicals favor a path to citizenship. The generational divides are also sharp, with 72 percent of respondents between the ages of 18 and 34 favoring inclusion of a path to citizenship in a reform package.

It’s always tricky to compare surveys that ask different questions, but other polls have found similar attitudes among white evangelicals, and suggest these evangelical views are consistent with the rest of the population. Public Religion Research Institute reported last month that roughly six in ten Americans “say the current immigration system should allow immigrants living in the country illegally a way to become citizens provided they meet certain requirements.”

While PRRI results show white evangelical support for Congress passing a comprehensive package is the lowest among religious groups (compared to “78 percent of the religiously unaffiliated, 76 percent of minority Protestants, 73 percent of white mainline Protestants, 72 percent of Catholics”) it, too, found a majority of white evangelicals (64%) support passage of a comprehensive package.

According to the Lifeway poll, evangelical views of immigration remain conservative, with security trumping citizenship by a fairly wide margin: nearly 86 percent said that comprehensive immigration reform should “guarantee secure national borders”—much higher than the 58 percent that said a bill should include a path to citizenship.

Yet a majority still favor a path to citizenship (also known pejoratively as “amnesty” in conservative circles). Republican politicians routinely run away from being labeled supporters of amnesty. Florida Senator Marco Rubio, who in 2013 sponsored a bill that included a path to citizenship, now he says he’s “learned” from that effort.

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Playing God: Religion in Star Trek

“A-koo-chee-moya. We are far from the sacred places of our grandfathers, and from the bones of our people, but perhaps there is one powerful being who will embrace this good crew and give them the answer they seek.” (Capt. Janeway, Voyager, The Cloud)

I’m watching Voyager for the first time, and this episode struck me. Not the plot, or Janeway’s desperation for coffee, but that particular line she speaks at the end. For me that encapsulates so much of what Star Trek represents and the positive future it shows. No, not that in the future everyone ought to have spirit animals and go on vision quests, but rather they ought to exhibit the same respect and curiosity Captain Janeway shows for Chakotay’s beliefs.

Religion is a tough subject in Star Trek. It’s well known that Gene Roddenberry was a staunch atheist and wanted to avoid all mention of religion in his show. As the various series progress, though, Star Trek does become more inclusive of religion.

It barely comes up in TOS. None of the characters are expressly religious, and the only religion or gods they encounter tend to be of the “false god” trope. These false gods are more advanced beings that take advantage of less learned civilizations with their technology and knowledge. We do see some aspects of Vulcan belief and culture. Whether or not we can classify the Vulcans’ reverence of Surak’s teachings as a religion, well, that is debatable. There is no god that they worship, but it is a set of beliefs that dictates behavior and how Vulcans live their lives day-to-day.

TNG goes a few steps further with Roddenberry’s beliefs. There are numerous instances of Picard and his crew encountering false gods and denouncing the impact of religion on societies. One episode in particular, the season 3 episode “Who Watches the Watchers,” clearly illustrates how earlier Star Trek portrays religion. The crew of Enterprise has accidentally shown their superior technology to the proto-Vulcan Mintakans, who conclude that Picard is a god. This exchange between Picard, Riker and Dr. Barron is telling:

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Righteous Rhetoric: Sex, Speech, and the Politics of Concerned Women for America: An Interview

Interview with Leslie Dorrough Smith.
What is the main argument of your book?

The gist of Righteous Rhetoric is that scholars have generally overlooked the source of the Christian Right’s social clout by focusing mainly on its member groups’ beliefs or rigid moral rules. Instead, I’m convinced that the greatest asset of the Christian Right is quite mundane: it’s the way that they speak.

The bulk of the book examines the speech of one prominent Christian Right group, called Concerned Women for America (CWA), and demonstrates that the group is persuasive because it employs a rhetorical technique that I call chaos rhetoric. Chaos rhetoric is a type of speech that invokes widespread public appeal through its deployment of specific symbols designed to create a heightened sense of social chaos and threat (rather than the order and security that scholars often tout when describing the Christian Right). By carefully manufacturing these negative emotions, the group is in a prime position to offer its own political platforms as the resolution to the threats that they construct.

One could simply call chaos rhetoric a fear tactic, but I thought this was too simplistic, since I was more interested in looking at how, when, and under what circumstances CWA chose to portray certain things as chaotic or fearful rather than presuming that those emotions were self-evident or natural. In other words, what is deemed frightening or threatening at one moment is often a non-event several years, or even months, later – it all depends on how the political and cultural winds are blowing.

If chaos rhetoric is a technique of persuasion, it is also one of masquerade. In the book I detail how chaos rhetoric serves four critical functions, two of which – creating urgency and inciting activism – are fairly predictable persuasive techniques. But CWA’s chaos rhetoric also performs the dual functions of defensive argumentation and rationale-deflection, which are processes by which attention is shifted away from CWA and its perhaps less popular rationales for advocacy and onto more emotion-evoking platforms. These are both really effective ways for the group to change more imperceptibly simply by convincing the audience to concentrate its attention elsewhere.

For example, CWA has frequently attempted to portray homosexuality as a public health threat, which it has done through studies that show things like an elevated risk for domestic violence among gay couples, or that pinpoint higher rates of suicide among gay teens. Rather than describe the more subjective discomfort that characterize its members’ homophobia, or talk about anti-gay theologies (neither of which is a particularly persuasive tactic if the point is to attract a diverse audience), CWA persuades best by portraying homosexuality as a threat to something that virtually everyone values – their health. Perhaps it goes without saying that if CWA were really concerned with public health issues, then they’d be discussing more than just the health risks associated with homosexuality (and ironically, the studies show that these risks are actually generated by an unaccepting culture rather than anything intrinsic to sexual orientation). Nevertheless, deflecting the rationale from religious particulars or gut feelings onto what is perceived to be a more “legitimate” concern helps to make the message sound relevant.

This technique is also useful over time. Focusing attention on its opponents (but less on itself) allows CWA to shift its own agendas more imperceptibly. As the message about gay rights as a health threat grows stale, loses public appeal, or is otherwise debunked, it is abandoned for a new one that accomplishes a similar effect. But once the similar effect is no longer possible to maintain, the group will be pushed to rework its stance on homosexuality, even if incrementally, so as to preserve its public relevancy. For instance, this might involve the shift from seeing homosexual identity as a sin to regarding the practice of homosexuality as a sin; that nuance, however slight, provides some wiggle room that gives the group material to work with in crafting new rhetoric. What this shows, then, is that the real persuasive force of chaos rhetoric lies in knowing how to repeatedly rework an opponent’s identity so that they remain perpetually threatening, and crafting one’s own rationale so that it always seems relevant.

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Tuesday, March 10, 2015

What Happened to America's First Muslims?

What does it mean for a religion to be woven into American history?

The presence of Muslims in the early United States is well known to scholars -- historians have put their population in the tens of thousands -- yet when President Obama noted last month that "Islam has been woven into the fabric of our country since its founding," he was greeted with incredulous outrage.

There was controversial Christian historian David Barton scoffing that Islam's influence could be seen mainly in the role followers of Muhammad played in the slave trade and the Barbary Wars, while South Carolina Congressman Jeff Duncan wondered if the president's "Jakarta elementary education" might be responsible for his view of the past.

An editor of a Catholic newspaper put doubts about the president's historical literacy plainly when he asked, "Is he high?"

But it's not up for argument that this majority Christian nation has a spiritual history much more diverse than usually supposed.

As Obama's critics have noted, there were, of course, no Muslims among the Founding Fathers. Thomas Jefferson and John Adams both owned copies of the Quran, but they may have been as unaware of Muslims living in the young United States as David Barton and Jeff Duncan are today.

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Don’t Tell Me that God Is In Control: On Tragedy, Sin, and Sovereignty

The statement comforts many people because deep down we know that we are not in control. We can do everything we can to protect ourselves and our families, but we know that despite our best efforts, tragedy can strike at any moment. And so it’s comforting to believe that if we aren’t in control, Someone else is.

But something inside of me recoils whenever I hear the phrase, “God is in control.” Many believe that God’s sovereignty means that God is behind everything that happens. But I find no comfort in that view of God. In fact, a God who micromanages and controls every event isn’t a God worthy of belief.

How to Respond to Tragedy

My community was struck by tragedy last week. A mother and her three children were walking to the grocery store. They waited for the crosswalk sign to signal that it was safe to cross the street. But it wasn’t safe. A driver ran the red light, severely injuring the mother, and killing her three children.

How does one respond to such tragedies? First, by mourning. The community held a vigil at the site to support the mother and father. People held candles, prayed, and sang hymns like “Jesus Loves Me” and “Amazing Grace.” Mourners turned the crosswalk into a memorial site with teddy bears, balloons, and other toys.

As the local paper reports, “There were children at the vigil, and parents held onto children tightly or kept a close eye on them. ‘Do not run!’ said one woman to a child near the street.”

Second, by empathizing. Every young parent knows that this tragedy could have happened to any of us. It could have happened to me or to you. I can do everything I can to keep my children safe and yet tragedy can still strike in an instant. Empathizing opens our hearts and minds to compassionately suffer with others as they go through their pain.

How Not to Respond to Tragedy
But there is a theological response that I find extremely pernicious. In the face of such tragedies, many people claim God’s sovereignty in an attempt to provide comfort, but it’s actually quite harmful. They say things like, “God is in control,” or “It’s part of God’s plan,” or “Everything happens for a reason.” But after experiencing tragedies like the one that struck my community, I can no longer believe in that notion of God’s sovereignty.

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Scott Walker, Evangelicals and the 2016 Election

When speaking to religious audiences, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker likes to remind people that he goes to church and knows his Bible. These reminders frequently come as Walker seeks to distinguish himself from political opponents in Wisconsin—the ones, he claims, who’ve sent his family death threats and harassed his kids on Facebook; the “literally thousands of protesters outside our family home” in Wauwatosa. Some of these protesters have, according to Walker, driven past the house and given him the finger as he and his family raked leaves on a Sunday afternoon after church and before the Packers game.

Speaking in 2012 to a teleconference with activists from Ralph Reed’s Faith and Freedom Coalition, Walker said his faith has enabled him to rise above the “vitriol, and the constant, ongoing hatred” during the recall election he faced in the wake of his anti-union legislation, which has crippled the state’s once-iconic labor movement. Along with the unmistakable contrast of his church-going family with the profane and progressive activists, Walker cited two Bible verses. He didn’t recite them, but for anyone who knows their Bible—as Walker, the son of a Baptist pastor, does—the meaning was clear. The verses that helped him withstand the hatred were Romans 16:20 (“The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus be with you”) and Isaiah 54:17 (“no weapon forged against you will prevail, and you will refute every tongue that accuses you.”)

Should he run for president, Walker may very well turn out to be the 2016 cycle’s evangelical favorite—not because he ticks off a laundry list of culture war talking points, pledges fealty to a “Christian nation,” or because he’s made a show of praying publicly to curry political favor. Although by no means universal, some conservative evangelicals—those who eschew the fever swamps of talk radio, yet share the same political stances of the religious right—are weary of the old style of campaigning. They’re turned off by the culture war red meat, the dutiful but insincere orations of piety.

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Why Does Religion Matter for Elections?

America is a religious nation, there’s no arguing that. Yes, there are a select group of atheists and agnostics, but statistically most in America identify with at least some degree of religious affiliation, though the variety of religions is immense given the melting pot reality of the U.S. demographic (not to mention the First Amendment). Now, when it comes to politics, religion has a complex relationship. On the surface, it’s completely separate (legally it’s required to be separate), but public opinion isn’t subject to a religious filter, and politicians need not feign unaligned views. In fact, many are very open about their religious preferences.

And many are openly religious for a very good reason; it plays well with certain groups of voters. This is true across party membership, from President Barack Obama, to Hillary Clinton, to Mike Huckabee. First, let’s take a look at Vox’s mapping of religious identities across the United States, and then see how it affects and applies to elections and key political issues.

It comes as little surprise that two of the top categories in the United States are Evangelical Protestant and Catholic, with many under the Christian umbrella term. What is somewhat surprising is the number of states and citizens who self-identify as “Unaffiliated,” as demonstrated in the map below.

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The In-Between Time

by Renita Marie
R3 Contributor

First published at the Holy Week of Resistance 






I never really imagined myself as a protester before Ferguson. Oh, sure I could always be counted on to make some noise about issues and press for progress—but hold a sign, chant or march? Well, I just never considered it.

When I stood on the street in Ferguson, I had an overwhelming sense of being in the presence of evil. We were under siege by what Paul called in Ephesians 6:10 “principalities and powers and rulers of wickedness in high places.”

On the streets we were met with the symbols of the rulers of wickedness: military tanks, riot gear, guns and dogs. The powers created an atmosphere of terror, intentionally causing police and people to fear each other.

Evil was present in full force.

As the people protested the system with chants and jeers the system sent police to protest the people with weapons and power.


I went to Ferguson to pray. I stayed to stand in the gap between heaven and hell.

I protested Satan.

Jesus protested Satan too.

Jesus protested economic disparities when he multiplied the two fish and five loaves.

Jesus protested religion that exploited the poor when he turned over tables in the temple.

Jesus protested sexism and racism when he spent time with the Samaritan woman at the well.

Jesus protested all forms of evil when he laid down his life for his friends.

“You are my friends if you do what I have commanded you—love one another.”

Show me what theology looks like. THIS is what theology looks like!

In recent months many injustices have been inescapably exposed as young people have demonstrated that they love their own lives and the lives of their generation. They are demanding the right to live in this world without the constant terror of annihilation.

They ripped the hood off our country’s oppressive structure.

Hey, hey! Ho, ho! These racist folks have got to go!

As Holy Week approaches, it is neither the Crucifixion nor the Resurrection that weighs on my spirit—it is the in-between time.

Our scriptures record a story of Jesus plunging into the cavity of the universe where he (depending on interpretation) either fought evil hand to hand or preached liberty to the captives or both. Whatever the case, we skip over Holy Saturday—the in-between time.

We love the story of the cross, from a distance of 2000 years. The cross gives us a sense of peace—we don’t have to suffer the eternal consequences of our temporal sins.

Similarly, we love the story of the Resurrection. The Resurrection gives us a sense of religious elitism—our God is not dead or in any temple made by human hands.

The in-between time story, however causes a fair amount of confusion, nervousness and discomfort. What do we do with that?

We’ve got to fight back! Fight back! Fight back!



Essentially, Christianity was born out of protest against evil. The Faith was defended with a deep and abiding love for humankind. 

Sadly, the Church Militant has lost its militant edge. Even though we sing battle songs like “I am on the Battlefield for My Lord” and “I’m a Soldier in the Army of the Lord” “Battle Hymn Republic” and “Onward Christian Soldiers” few preachers approach the topic Spiritual Warfare. This is not so surprising considering many in the pews resist messages that seem “violent.”

People seem to come to church to be comforted and encouraged more so than challenged and stirred. This, too, is not so surprising. People fight battles daily in their personal life—they count on church being a break from the battle.

It is OUR duty to fight for OUR freedom….

While we are distracted by our individual battles, systemic injustices grow stronger.

Christianity, by design, was about creating a community where like-minded believers cared for each other, encouraged each other and protected each other.

Early believers suffered and died in their protests against evil out of love for us all. Early believers knew that the movement was bigger than they—I wonder if they had any idea that we would remember them throughout history?

Show me what community looks like. THIS is what community looks like

So, here we are approaching yet another Holy Week.

While we commemorate the suffering of Christ on Calvary and rejoice in the Resurrection, we must consider the in-between time.

We are yet in the in-between time—Jesus came and He’s coming again. In this in-between time, we must actively engage in the battle against evil. The role of the Church is to do what Jesus did. Jesus gives us the power and authority to protest evil like he did—and greater.

The injustices of our system are multi-facetted and require a multi-tactical approach. In other words, it takes all of us—there’s something for everyone to do.

How will you protest Satan? How will you spend the in-between time?

More at:

http://www.renitamarie.com

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/pastor-renita-marie-mdiv/