Paul and I just finished our tour of the South (thank goodness for nice weather in Atlanta, Memphis, Nashville, and Birmingham). Along the way we met up with good old friends, made new ones, and heard so many stories of Jesus and race in America (and the world) that we could almost write another book. The highlights, for me, were meeting several friends of the four little girls who were killed in the 1963 Birmingham church bombing and hearing their tales of dealing with loss, fear, and imagery of Christ. I wanted to draw brief attention to four of our hosts in part to thank them, but also to let blog readers know about their dynamic and fascinating work.
At Morehouse College, Reverend Matthew V. Johnson helped coordinate our discussions with several classes and the chaplaincy program. Dr. Johnson is a graduate of Morehouse College and earned his Masters and Ph.D. degrees in Philosophical Theology from the University of Chicago. He has done post-graduate studies in Psychoanalysis and is currently a member in training at the Institute of Contemporary Psychotherapy and Psychoanalysis. In the ministry for thirty years, Dr. Johnson is the Pastor of Church of the Good Shepherd-Baptist and serves as the National Executive Director of Every Church A Peace Church. A novelist and a radio host as well, Professor Johnson’s first scholarly book, The Tragic Vision of African American Religion is a beautiful study of how African Americans experience, deal with, conceive, and interact with tragedy and the tragic. Thanks to Dr. Johnson, little E.Z. now has a “future Morehouse man” which my son will wear with pride (at least I’ll feel pride).
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