James Cone on the Uses and Limits of Karl Barth

Following up on the previous few posts, here is James Cone discussing why Barth’s criticisms are helpful for oppressors but not the oppressed:

Of course, black theology is aware of the danger of identifying the word of human beings with the word of God, the danger Karl Barth persuasively warned against in the second decade of this century: Continue reading

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The Black Christ (James Cone)

I begin by asserting once more that Jesus was a Jew. It is on the basis of the soteriological meaning of the particularity of his Jewishness that theology must affirm the christological significance of Jesus’ present blackness. He is black because he was a Jew. James Cone, God of the Oppressed, 123.

For many, coming from a variety of theological perspectives, talk of “the Black Christ” is scandalous–and not in the sense that Gospel is a scandal. I want to unpack Cone’s defense of his claim, suggesting that what Cone should say, at the end, is: Christ is black because he is a Jew. Continue reading

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Why Christians Hate The “Religion” They Invented

I wanted to avoid adding another commentary to the now ubiquitous “Why I Hate Religion, but Love Jesus” video. But it keeps being posted and reposted, despite a fairly obvious objection to it: only Christians of a certain kind think “religion” means what this guy says it means. Continue reading

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Theology and Ideology (more thoughts on James Cone)

Theologians must continually ask: “How do we distinguish our words about God from God’s Word…our dreams and aspirations from the work of the Spirit” (Cone, God of the Oppressed, 77). Each theological movement challenges some other movement for its ideological entrapment.  For instance, Hauerwas points out the ways in which American Christianity functions ideologically as a divine blessing on American nationalism. Apocalyptic theologians then point out that the Hauerwasian idea of the church as alternative polis functions ideologically by conflating the church’s institutional life with the gospel.

James Cone offers an important challenge to every criticism of ideology. He says,  Continue reading

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Theology and Creativity: James Cone on the Theological Imagination

God’s Word is a poetic happening, an evocation of an indescribable reality in the lives of the people. James Cone, God of the Oppressed, p. 17.

James Cone wonderfully situates theological work within the realm of human artistic production: theology is a creative response to an active, living presence, the “event of liberation” that is Jesus Christ (32).

Viewing theology as a creative work Continue reading

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Occupy the Seminaries? (Quick Thoughts on Two Recent Articles)

I have a few minutes before I need to get back to PhD applications. I’ve been more active on Twitter lately than here. However, I recently read two articles on OWS and seminaries and want to encourage people to read them together.

The first is a fantastic article by Serene Jones, the president at Union Seminary, who recently added Cornel West to their faculty. In her article, she says, Continue reading

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“Still Here” a poem by L. Hughes, for #OWS


I’ve been scarred and battered.
My hopes the wind done scattered.
Snow has friz me, sun has baked me,
Looks like between ’em
They done tried to make me
Stop laughin’, stop lovin’, stop livin’–
But I don’t care!
I’m still here!

Langston Hughes

For those of you who missed it, another Hughes poem has been floating around in the political sphere, oddly quoted by Republican presidential candidates who seem not to realize what the poem is saying. Here’s an article about it, and here’s a section from the poem, Let America Be America Again.

O, let America be America again–
The land that never has been yet–
And yet must be–the land where every man is free.
The land that’s mine–the poor man’s, Indian’s, Negro’s, ME–
Who made America,
Whose sweat and blood, whose faith and pain,
Whose hand at the foundry, whose plow in the rain,
Must bring back our mighty dream again.

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The 99% or Main Street?

A quick thought before I continue reading through David Harvey’s The Condition of Postmodernity for this morning’s fun:

The language of “the 99%” is a welcome relief to the previous talk of “Wall St.” v. “Main St,” or the even more invidious but similar language of “real Americans.” Main St., Main St. America, Real America all conjur up images of white, small town, midwestern America. The language of “the 99%” by its very breadth can’t build on this implicitly racial nationalism. To use some other mathematical language: it allows a reorganization of political energy away from the mythical “mean” or “average” citizen.

Continue reading

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Another Kind of Justice: thoughts on Brueggemann and OWS

The doing of justice is the prophetic invitation to do what needs to be done to enable the poor and the disadvantaged and the neglected to participate in the resources and wealth of the community. Walter Brueggemann

I added the 2 minute video of Brueggemann to my work website, as a kind of overview for the nonprofit’s work with refugees and vulnerable immigrant communities. But over the last couple weeks, as I’ve been mulling it over and thinking more about OWS, I’ve found myself uncomfortable with it.

Continue reading

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Christ the Slave and Occupy Wall Street, or Why OWS Should Matter to Christians

Occupy Wall Street went global yesterday–and remember, it started globally too–but I wonder how many of our churches think it matters (and for a whole variety of reasons). I want to make an argument that OWS does matter, for us Christians, and we should be paying close attention at the very least. To state my conclusion upfront: faith in Christ demands that we pay attention. That is, OWS is important not as a matter of “Christian ethics” (like a command to seek justice); it’s a matter of who Jesus is.  Continue reading

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