22 Oct 2020

Freedom in the Flesh: A Reflection on Alvin Ailey’s “Revelations”

AAADT in Alvin Ailey’s Revelations. Photo by Pierre Wachholder. link. “The rhythms are very strong now. They sustain everyone in the room. All are moving. The music seems to be coming from inside the people as if by their movement they are liberating the sound from within themselves.” Joseph Murray, Santería: African Spirits in America Sitting in the sold-out theater we await the beginning of the production. The space is elegant but not extravagant, with

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18 Sep 2020

A Simple, Hard Truth: God Loves You

The world is not well. Though in a fallen world this is always true, the brokenness around us now feels particularly visceral. I need not provide a list of the ailments, catastrophes, disasters, etc. You likely know them as well as I, and each person experiences this brokenness differently in their own situation. So, rather than enumerate the maladies besetting us, I wish to focus on a simple, profound, foundational truth: God loves you. It

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21 Aug 2020

Ruth: The Model Minority?

The story of Ruth is well known in Western culture even outside of Christian circles. Ruth’s pledge of loyalty—“Where you go, I will go; where you lodge, I will lodge; your people shall be my people, and your God my God. Where you die, I will die there will I be buried.”1—is eloquent and memorable for its passion and fierce loyalty. I have been familiar with this story for some time, but recently re-read it

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24 Jul 2020

We Need to Talk About White Jesus

Image Source: Unilad, Emma Rosemurgey, https://www.unilad.co.uk/life/expert-says-this-is-what-jesus-would-have-actually-looked-like/  The American debate regarding White Jesus goes back at least to W.E.B. Du Bois,1 and surely further back to the founding of the Invisible Institution—the secret church of enslaved Black people.2 Yet, it has become increasingly pronounced now that protestors are forcing America to confront its racist past. Particular occurrences have heightened this debate, for example controversial activist Shaun King tweeting that “statues of the white European they claim

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26 Jun 2020

Trauma Porn and the Problems of Sustaining a Movement: A Lesson from Martin Luther King Jr.

By now, everyone who wishes to (and undoubtedly many who did not) has seen the gruesome death of George Floyd with a knee on his neck. The video of Floyd’s murder now joins a twisted pantheon of video evidence of brutality against Black bodies, that stretches back to the infamous videotaped police beating of Rodney King in 1991, and to public displays of brutality that were cast across the country during the Civil Rights Movement

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29 May 2020

“How to Be an Antiracist” – A Review and Reflection

Though How to Be an Antiracist is accessible to a general audience, it is rigorous scholarship by Ibram X. Kendi, professor at American University and director of the Antiracist Research and Policy Center. In this book, Kendi applies the important historical work of his first major publication Stamped from the Beginning (Nation Books, 2016) to practical antiracist endeavors. In this review I examine the contours of his argument and investigate his controversial claim that it

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01 May 2020

Frozen II and the Cost of Decolonization

I’m going to start this off with a pretty controversial statement, Frozen is the best Disney movie. I grew up with the Lion King, Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, etc.—but none of those can beat a movie that centers sisterly, familial rather than romantic love, features Idina Menzel’s amazing voice, and arguably is an apology for queerness. Given Frozen’s indisputable G.O.A.T. status, I was excited to see Frozen II recently, though admittedly it took me far too

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06 Apr 2020

Divine Dissatisfaction Part 2: Joy as the Realization of the Beloved Community

O. Fernandez, New York World-Telegram and the Sun staff photographer / Public domain In part one of this article, Divine Dissatisfaction: Loving Rage and the Imagination of a Better World, I argued that an important aspect of Martin Luther King Jr.’s theology—what he calls divine dissatisfaction—can be better understood if connected with the concept of rage. Rage, in this context, I define as a refusal to operate within the status quo bounds of rationality, a

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06 Mar 2020

Divine Dissatisfaction: Loving Rage and the Imagination of a Better World

James Cone states at the beginning of his paradigm-altering first book, Black Theology and Black Power, that he writes with “the attitude of an angry Black man” but also with “a certain dark joy.”1 Why does he simultaneously name these experiences, anger and joy, that are seemingly in conflict with one another? And what is it that makes his joy dark? I argue that Cone names his joy as dark, not because it is evil

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07 Feb 2020

I Have Not Known Great Evil – A Lament from a Place of Privilege

Photo by: Ken H. Wright Date: May 12, 1956   I have not known great evil. Yet it haunts my past and shapes my present. Who can say that the enslavement, brutal lynching, and systematic dehumanization of a kidnapped race does not haunt America and the world? Who can hear the reported words of a young girl who inexplicably survived the gas chamber saying “I want my mommy,” and not think the world forever marred

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02 Dec 2019

Ken Ham, Richard Dawkins, and Me

Ken Ham and I are tight. By that, I mean that I’ve never met him, but I’ve seen him speak multiple times, read a lot of what he’s written, and I’ve visited him (well, I went to the Creation Museum several times). Maybe I’m more of a Ken Ham stalker than anything else. Regardless, over my formative years I became rather familiar with his brand of Young Earth Creationism (YEC)1 in the Christian elementary and

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01 Nov 2019

Why We Still Need the Theology of Martin Luther King Jr. Today

The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. contained within himself many identities. King was a scholar, prophet, civil rights leader, advocate for peace,1 and—above all—a minister of the gospel of Jesus Christ. However, King was also a plagiarist and philanderer, who was often depressed by his own personal failings and the failings of the movement for which he became a symbol.2 When we recall King’s life and work we must—in true Kingian fashion—hold both his

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07 Oct 2019

Withered Souls

“There comes a time when one must take the position that is neither safe nor politic nor popular, but he must do it because conscience tells him it is right.”[1] Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. What happens when one consistently ignores their conscience? What kind of damage might that do to a person or people group? These are questions Martin Luther King Jr. took up, specifically regarding white people. King recognized that from the

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19 Jul 2019

Letter to My Son Abraham

Abraham, my eldest, my firstborn, the one who taught me that I have enough goodness in me to help produce life. I love you. I want you to know that—and I want to live my life in a way that you have no question that this is true—that I will do everything in my feeble, human frailty to show that I love you and that there is nothing you can do that would make my

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